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Google’s ‘Chat’ service a gift to cybercriminals: Amnesty

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile-telephone carriers and between phone and carrier

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Google
Google's new Search feature gives single result to certain queries. Pixabay

Google’s decision to launch a new messaging service called “Chat” without end-to-end encryption shows utter contempt for the privacy of Android users and has handed a precious gift to cybercriminals and government spies alike, Amnesty International has said.

Communications on the new “Chat” service will not be sent over the Internet but through mobile phone carriers, like SMS text messages, according to reports.

Google Chat is becoming more famous.

In a statement to The Verge this week, a Google spokesperson confirmed that the new service will not use end-to-end encryption and that Google is “pausing investment” in its existing mobile messaging app “Allo” which has an option for end-to-end encryption.

“Not only does this shockingly retrograde step leave Google lagging behind its closest competitors — Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp both have end-to-end encryption in place by default — it is also a step backwards from the company’s previous attempts at online messaging,” Joe Westby, a technology and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said on Friday.

Also Read: Google Will Take Action If Apps Violate Its Policies

Amnesty International considers end-to-end encryption a minimum requirement for technology companies to ensure that private information in messaging apps stays private. End-to-end encryption is a way of scrambling digital data so that only the sender and recipient can see it.

When it is in place, even the company providing the service is unable to access the content of communications. “Following the revelations by CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden, end-to-end encryption has become recognised as an essential safeguard for protecting people’s privacy when using messaging apps. With this new Chat service, Google shows a staggering failure to respect the human rights of its customers,” Westby said in a statement.

A Google picture.
The Chat is a security threat. VOA

In the wake of the recent Facebook data scandal, Westby said that Google’s decision is not only dangerous but also out of step with current attitudes to data privacy. “Google should immediately scrap it in its current form and instead give its customers a product that protects their privacy,” Westby suggested.

Google is going all in on building the Rich Communication Services (RCS). RCS is a communication protocol between mobile-telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is more rich, provide phonebook polling and transmit in-call multimedia. IANS

Next Story

Google Unveils India-Specific Website on Coronavirus That Delivers Necessary Information

The Data and Insights section shows up-to-date insights from Google Trends including some of the most searched and trending questions on COVID-19 from India

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Google
The website contains information such as key helpline numbers, content about symptoms, protective measures, known treatments, and the latest global and Indian statistics. Pixabay

Google on Tuesday rolled out an India-specific website on coronavirus that delivers comprehensive information about the pandemic, and how to stay productive during this time.

The website contains information such as key helpline numbers, content about symptoms, protective measures, known treatments, and the latest global and Indian statistics.

It also hosts a collection of videos on how people can use their time productively while at home, as well as resources and training modules for individuals, small businesses, and educators to stay connected and informed, especially when self-isolated at home.

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The website has four key sections: health information, safety and prevention tips, data & insights, and resources. The Safety and Prevention Tips section consists of educational and informative links and videos by the Union Health Ministry, aiming to convey to people the importance of washing hands, declaring symptoms, and adopting responsible behaviour.

The website also carries a snapshot of some of the most popular searches related to coronavirus, including the latest coronavirus news, right way to wash hands, things to do at home, as well as answers to questions like what is social distancing?, what is a lockdown? or what is self-quarantine?

Google
Google on Tuesday rolled out an India-specific website on coronavirus that delivers comprehensive information about the pandemic, and how to stay productive during this time. Pixabay

The Data and Insights section shows up-to-date insights from Google Trends including some of the most searched and trending questions on COVID-19 from India. The Resources section hosts several useful videos that help parents and kids spend time learning at home, or help people with coping techniques for stressful days, or simply try their hand at new recipes and DIY (do it yourself) projects spanning art and fitness.

To help people get up and running for working from home, there are also links to key resources: Individuals will find tips for getting work done when working from home useful, and teachers can connect with their students using resources like Distance learning resources for schools, Teach from Home tools for teachers, and methods to help kids learn to read at home.

ALSO READ: Avoid Usage of Alcohol and Tobacco Amid Lockdown: Health Ministry

For entrepreneurs running small and medium businesses, there is information on managing their business through uncertainty and training tools for remote working and learning. (IANS)