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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 Pixel cameras to have external microphones support. Pixabay
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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

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Tech Giant Google To Charge $40 Per Device From Android Makers

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome

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Google to charge $40 per device to Android makers. Wikimedia Commons

Android manufacturers will have to pay $40 per device to Google in Europe to be featured into Google Play Store and other mobile apps.

According to a report in The Verge on Friday, a confidential fee schedule shows costs as high as $40 per device to install the “Google Mobile Services” suite of apps.

“The new fees vary depending on country and device type, and it would apply to devices activated on or after February 1st, 2019,” the report said.

“Google is also offering separate agreements to cover some or all of the licensing costs for companies that choose to install Chrome and Google search on their devices as well, according to a person familiar with the terms,” it added.

The tech giant however, has declined to comment.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Earlier this week, Google said it was updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers and may ask them to pay a fee for Google Play and other its other Android apps used in Europe.

The move was to comply with the decision of the European Union’s anti-trust watchdog’s decision against Android.

The European Commission ruled that forcing device manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome was against its competition rules and fined the tech giant a whopping $5.1 billion in July (Google has appealed against the ruling).

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With the new changes to Android that will come into effect on October 29, smartphone makers in Europe will need to pay for certain Google apps.

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome. (IANS)