Google Allo app with Google Assistant reportedly shows results for users’ previous search query in the middle of a group conversation. According to a ReCode report, Allo can “reveal your Google search history to people you message”, a glitch that could have major privacy implications. The glitch was discovered by ReCode’s Tess Townsend when Google Assistant showed up a past search query related to Harry Potter in the middle of a totally unrelated conversation with a contact.
The report said the contact directed Assistant to identify itself and instead of offering a name or funny response it responded with a link from Pottermore, the Harry Potter fan website said the report, with Townsend adding that his friend had searched for Potter a few days earlier.
However, Google told the site the company has fixed the issue. “We were notified about the Assistant in group chats not working as intended. We’ve fixed the issue and appreciate the report,” Google said in a statement to ReCode.
Further, the report explains Google Assistant does try to safeguard personal information, including when a user is in conversation with a contact. However, the safeguard is inconsistent. This means, in response to a personal query, Google Assistant is supposed to pop up a question asking whether to share the information now or not. But Assistant doesn’t always ask the question before replying.
Google Allo can do a lot more when compared to other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, thanks to Assistant. The app combines the power of machine learning with search results to give replies. However, it is not end-to-end encrypted, which makes a user’s chat accessible to third-party. Sure, there’s an Incognito mode that offers end-to-end encryption, but other chats are vulnerable.
The glitch comes on the heels of Wikileaks CIA document dump, which claims there are vulnerabilities in both iOS and Android. According to the information by Wikileaks, CIA can bypass into one’s WhatsApp encryption and read private messages as well. It points out that CIA isn’t hacking into applications but device’s software instead – iOS and Android.
According to an IANS report, whistleblower Edward Snowden had issued a warning about Allo after its launch. “What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request,” he tweeted.