Let’s face it, government surveillance has been a hot button topic thrust into the zestiest since sites like Wiki-leaks come online. The recent past has shown that companies do care about security, at least within their apps. WhatsApp, for example, just added end to end encryption for any communications that takes place on their platform. So, where is Google in all this? Trailing, it seems. In a recent Reddit AMA, Google came clean regarding the state of end to end encryption in their popular messaging app. In short, it doesn’t exist. Any communication handled by Hangouts is in the clear. What does that mean for you, the end-user? I means that the Big Goog can tap right into your conversations. If it happens in Hangouts, it happens in Mountain View.
What’s even more disturbing, is that Google can do this at the behest of law enforcement without consulting their users. You may be asking yourself, “what about off the record?” According to a Google spokesperson this doesn’t offer any kind of extra security. Off the record merely “…prevents the chat conversations from appearing in your history…” Awesome.
According to Google, via its transparency report, there were only 26 wiretap requests from law enforcement agencies since 2103. During this 18 month period, there is no real way to know how many of those requests were directed at communications handled by Hangouts.