Google has admitted that Hangouts conversations does not have end-to-end encryption, meaning that the company can tap into those sessions when it receives a government court order requiring it to do so.
A Google spokesperson later confirmed to Motherboard that, “Hangouts doesn’t use end-to-end encryption. That makes it technically possible for Google to wiretap conversations at the request of law enforcement agents, even when you turn on the “off the record” feature, which actually only prevents the chat conversations from appearing in your history—it doesn’t provide extra encryption or security.”
Post the Snowden revelations, concerns about government spying have increased tremendously. The internet giant recently revealed in its transparency report that worldwide government requests for user data rose 150 percent in the last five years. However, the company didn’t clarify how many of these requests were for Hangouts. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) has become a major concern especially in services that involve communication. Internet giant Yahoo as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp has also added end-to-end encryption, however there are still a few services that have still not implemented the feature, making them susceptible to interception.