Indian Government Plans To Develop An Ultra-Secure “WhatsApp” For State Use
Date: 29 Jun 2019 Category : India reportedly wants to build its own WhatsApp for government communications | Author: Graham Penrose
India seems to be planning to deploy a French style secure comms app for use by government. The Indian establishment recognises the importance of protecting government communications but does not want to rely on “foreign entities” to do so.
The reasoning for developing a home grown app appears to be as a result of the ongoing spat between the U.S., Huawei, and China. The Indian government report on the matter stated that “We need to make our communications insular”.
By placing Huawei on the entity list the U.S has set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi according to a top government official. There is also trade tension between India and the U.S. after India was removed from a special trade program when India would not assure the Trump administration that it would “provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”
Moving away from the use of popular “foreign” comms apps isn’t the first time a nation has attempted to restrict usage of these apps in government offices. France launched an encrypted chat app called Tchap for use in government offices in early 2019. Only French government employees can access the service. The code though has been open sourced. A security flaw was discovered within 24 hours of its release. [Read Tchap: The super (not) secure app of the French government]
China have also restricted many “foreign” outfits from servicing their domestic market. They maintain customized government versions of popular operating systems. So does North Korea. India too has been trying to build and encourage adoption of its own Linux-based BOSS desktop operating system. But most government agencies in India still continue to use the MS Windows OS.
India is the 3rd largest startup location in the world but they have failed to build local alternatives for many of the most popular services. WhatsApp is the go-to app for communications on the sub-continent, Google’s Android powers the majority of the smartphones in India and Microsoft’s Windows is the most widely used OS on computers.