Edward Snowden issued a strong warning about Allo after its launch last year / AFP/Getty

The company's virtual assistant appears to be at fault, providing unrelated answers to users' questions

Worrying issues have been discovered in Google’s messaging app, Allo.

It has been found to be capable of sharing users’ past Google searches with contacts, without being prompted to.

The discovery was made by Re/code’s Tess Townsend, who was using Allo to chat to a friend.

“In the middle of our conversation, my friend directed Assistant to identify itself,” wrote Ms Townsend. “Instead of offering a name or a pithy retort, it responded with a link from Harry Potter fan website Pottermore.”

Neither Ms Townsend or her friend had mentioned Harry Potter in their conversation before Allo brought it up.

“But the response was not merely a non sequitur,” continues Ms Townsend. “It was a result related to previous searches my friend said he had done a few days earlier.”

Google responded by saying, “We were notified about the Assistant in group chats not working as intended. We've fixed the issue and appreciate the report.”

However, Allo exhibited further strange behaviour when Ms Townsend proceeded to ask the Google Assistant “What is my job?” 

It shared a Google Maps image with the address of a co-working space she used to work at, and not the publicly listed address of her previous employer. 

“Google had the address on file because I had included it in my personal Google Maps settings,” wrote Ms Townsend. “It did not ask my permission to share that.”

Google Assistant is supposed to request permission from a user before sharing personal information in an Allo chat, but the privacy feature doesn’t appear to always work.

Edward Snowden issued a warning about Allo after its launch last year.

“What is #Allo?” he tweeted. “A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request.” 

Google says collecting data makes Allo more useful – the better and more information it has, the better and more helpful the suggestions will be.

But many people have claimed that, by collecting that information, Google was putting people at risk of government spying.

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