Say ‘Allo to Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns have been raised over Google’s new smart messaging app Allo, which stores messages that can be made available to authorities on request.

Google originally presented Allo as a mecca for privacy because messages would only be retained for a short time.

But the privacy debate was sparked after National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden posted a warning on Twitter about the app.

The official Google Blog stated: “Incognito mode messages have end-to-end encryption and additional privacy features like discreet notifications and message expiration.”

Messages sent when the app is not in “Incognito mode” may be stored in the app’s memory permanently.

But Curtin University internet studies lecturer Sky Croeser said Allo users should look carefully at what is involved.

“A lot of users aren’t necessarily reading the fine print carefully, and aren’t necessarily confident going into their settings and changing things,” she said.

“Privacy settings can change quite regularly. It isn’t just a matter of going into the settings once and changing things, it’s a matter of being willing to update quite regularly.”

Dr Croeser said users should consider whether the app would still be useful to them in “Incognito mode”.

“It’s important for people to get a background on what’s involved in the app, and to consider whether they’re going to have the time and confidence to go and do the background work they need to do to keep themselves safe,” she said.

Allo was released in the US on Wednesday to iOS users and Android users, but is not yet available in Australia.

Categories: Legal, Technology

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