Google weakens privacy feature in Allo chat app

Google weakens privacy feature in Allo chat app
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Google’s new Allo messaging service is under fire from privacy rights advocates for a decision that will make it easier for law enforcement to retrieve chats. 

Google announced two new chat apps earlier this year: Duo, dedicated to video conferencing, and Allo, a full-featured message client that lets users access an artificial intelligence (A.I.) assistant within chats.

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When Allo was announced, Google said it would not keep permanent records of chats. But, when Allo began its rollout on Wednesday, that policy had changed. Google told The Verge it would now be storing chats to help continually train the A.I. assistant.

That move has angered privacy advocates, including Edward Snowden, because storing communications means that governments can issue warrants to retrieve old chats. 

Allo does offer a bolstered security mode with end-to-end encryption that would keep data out of the hands of the authorities. However, it needs to be turned on with each conversation. 

In addition to Duo and Allo, Google also has two older chat apps, Hangouts and for mobile phones, Messenger.