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The Google Talk client built into Gmail offers Off The Record messaging:

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But, when I click the link to "Go off the record", it works immediately without any noticable steps to authenticate the other end. Pidgin and the official OTR plugin let me choose between a Fingerprint, a shared secret, and answering user-defined questions. If both users are on the Gmail Google Talk client, it won't ask for anything like that.

What does Google do to authenticate the other party?


I am assuming that what Google labels "go off the record" refers to the Off-the-Record Messaging Protocol.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It basically stops take a copy of your convosation but still does all the authentication etc Was an assumption see Google's answer :)

  1. What does it mean to go off the record?

We know that sometimes, we don't want a particular chat, or chats with a specific person, to be saved. Most existing IM services give no indication of whether the person you're chatting with is saving your conversation. But when chatting in Google Talk or Gmail, you can go "off the record," so that nothing typed from that point forward gets automatically saved in anyone's Gmail account.

Going off the record applies to individual people, and is persistent across chats. That means once you go off the record with a particular person, you will always be off the record with him or her, even if you close the chat window, and the two of you don't chat again until several months later. You will not need to go off the record each time you chat with the same person, but you will need to make this decision for each person you chat with. We've designed this to be a socially-negotiated setting because we want to give users full disclosure and control over whether the person they're talking to can save their chat.

To go off the record while chatting, click the Options button and select "Go off the record" from the dropdown menu. Both people can go off the record or stop chatting off the record at any time, and we will always notify both people of such a change.

REF Google Talk chat history

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What do you mean by "still does all the authentication etc"? This quote sounds like "off the record" merely means "disable logging", rather than otr. A scary thought. –  Stefano Palazzo Jul 7 '11 at 14:07
    
@Stefano I mean that it still checks who your talking to like it normall does and I think it does literally mean it just turns off logging by "off the record" –  Matt Jul 7 '11 at 14:13
    
Yeah you were spot on Matt. That's pretty awful. –  Stefano Palazzo Jul 7 '11 at 15:18
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@Stefano dont for get to mark as answer :) –  Matt Jul 7 '11 at 15:35

Just like Matt says in his answer, it just turns off logging.

I just got confirmation of this by Associate Professor Ian Goldberg, one of the authors of "Off-the-Record Communication, or, Why Not To Use PGP" and lead developer of the OTR software suite (in other words: the guy):

GTalk's "off the record" button indeed just means that they (claim to[*]) stop logging your conversation. It has nothing to do with "Off-the-Record Messaging" (OTR). Google still sees all of your messages in cleartext, you are trusting it to correctly tell you who you're talking to, etc.

[*] I wonder what would happen if Google received a court order to log a certain party's messages, as happened to Hushmail a while back. Would that checkbox disappear? Would they just ignore its setting?

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