Is Google Assistant Safe to Use?

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Allo is a mobile-only app that is meant to be a fresh start for Google’s new communication’s division (which also runs Hangouts and Project Fi). Google was clear about its intentions regarding privacy and all conversations are encrypted “on the wire,” which means that nobody on the internet can read them as you send your message. They are read by Google’s servers, but Google doesn’t keep your chat logs around and doesn’t assign identity to the chat logs on those servers.

Even more, Allo’s built-in Incognito mode seems to meet some of our expectations. This mode will enable end-to-end encryption meaning that only you and your message’s recipient will ever be able to see the text. And to take things to a new level, you can easily choose to set a time for your message to self-destruct or if you want, they can auto-delete one minute after your friend reads them. Google thinks that this was the right move, but do you know that without this mode, it still uses people’s conversations to make its Google Assistant feature more intelligent? Therefore, is Google Assistant truly safe to use?

Google assistant is your new good friend in the form of a conversational interface that you can use to get information from Google. You can set up a conversation with @google and ask it all sorts of questions about weather and sports, about foods and movies and so on and you will not be disappointed by the answers, not to mention that it will also engage in a bit of a conversation with you.

Like most other machine learning platforms and real friends, the more data it has to consume, the better it can serve you in the future, but I am sure that Google claimed this would not be the case when Allo when it was first introduced.

Its ability to recognize some key words such as “Italian food” in a conversation you are engaged in and then recommend some restaurants near your location is king of scary and makes you question about how private your life really is. Would you want a so-called “friend” that knows every conversation that you have, that knows your location and your private info?

However, Assistant is not available if you are using the Incognito mode. Therefore, if you want to remain private with end-to-end encryption, you will never get to use Assistant and go on with your life without the care and good intentions of this friend that tries to get to know you. You did that up to now, so rest assured that you can keep doing it!

And by the way, if you plan on doing evil things that would eventually lead to a police investigation, don’t you imagine that Allo is on your side. Quite the opposite, if you happened to be using Allo, Google’s Terms of Service for the app allows them to turn over any incriminating data against you. With all messages stored indefinitely on Google’s servers, unless deleted by you manually, law enforcement will have full access to them.

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Radu Nicolae

Rdz works as an editor here at Android Flagship and when he's not at work, he enjoys doing whatever he does. He's a good guy but we still have no idea how he got here!