After being denied a backdoor into WhatsApp for security concerns, India is now working on a messaging application much like WhatsApp but for officials working inside the government. The move comes as a means to be independent of foreign entities when sharing official communications between government agencies and staff.
The news comes from an unnamed senior government official who told ET “We need to make our communication insular”. The official further revealed that the move comes after security concerns that for all government communications, there should exist email and messaging service that “doesn’t depend on outside players”.
The rationale behind such a move is to keep the data shared between government agencies secure and store it fully in India so that no data is transmitted outside the country. If such a plan does become reality, India will be following France who also built the Tchap chat app to be made use of inside government offices earlier this year.
As for what this chat app will be, the government official further added that discussions are ongoing for “some form of a Sarkari (governmental) WhatsApp”. The official said, “For starters, at least all forms of government-to-government communication should begin on such platforms and then we could take this forward to the next step, which is all government communication to people should also use these platforms”.
The official also mentioned that the move to develop its own WhatsApp-like app demanded momentum after the US restricted Huawei from dealing with American companies which, as quoted by the official “rung alarm bells”. The report also revealed the official saying “if the US finds us unreliable for some reason, all they need to do is ask their companies to slow down networks in India and everything here will come to a standstill. We are vulnerable and we must take steps to cover that”.
India is currently the largest market for Facebook-owned WhatsApp and the messaging platform has been in a feud with the Indian government over not letting the latter trace messages shared between users. It all started when the government requested WhatsApp to allow traceability of messages shared within the platform by enabling a digital fingerprint. The Facebook-owned company later denied that it would add anything as such it would undermine the privacy of its users.