Amid the raging controversy over privateness on WhatsApp, the federal government is planning an entire new method – its personal model of the messaging app.
Sources within the Ministry of Electronics and Data and Expertise (MeITY) have confirmed to NDTV that two such apps are being examined of their beta stage. They’ve been codenamed Samvad and Sandes, actually “dialog” and “message”, respectively.
“These apps are being developed fully by the federal government of India. It’ll be an immediate messaging app like WhatsApp,” mentioned a MeITY functionary. NDTV has learnt that the federal government additionally has plans for an app referred to as GIMS – Authorities On the spot Messaging Service – meant just for authorities of India staff to speak.
“A necessity was being felt throughout the authorities for a really very long time to have our personal, unbiased, and self-owned immediate messaging service. Improvement of those apps started method earlier than the current WhatsApp controversy,” mentioned the supply.
The largest benefit of this app will likely be that “we’ll by no means have to fret about information being stolen and used for industrial beneficial properties by massive tech”.
Nonetheless, its acceptance amongst individuals will be gauged solely after a public roll-out – it is not clear nonetheless if each Samvad and Sandes or solely certainly one of them may have one. Sources say as soon as beta testing is over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is anticipated to dedicate the app to the nation.
Sandes is on the market on Apple retailer for a number of individuals to check. It has a blue-and-white interface with the Ashok Chakra as its brand. It authorises and verifies solely authorities staff for now.
“It could solely be doable that certainly one of these apps shall stay for the inner consumption of presidency staff and never be rolled out for the general public,” the supply mentioned.
WhatsApp got here below criticism not too long ago when it unilaterally modified its service and privateness coverage asking for information to be shared with Fb, its father or mother agency. Although it later put the plans on maintain amid the privateness debate, a sense remained throughout the authorities that one of the simplest ways ahead was to have one’s personal various. In the meantime, the Supreme Court docket deemed it a fit case for intervention if individuals’s privateness was at stake.
The leak of WhatsApp chats in current months, involving a number of outstanding individuals and well-known faces, too, has added to the general nervousness over privateness and safety. All of the extra so for the reason that platform has more and more grow to be a useful instrument in enterprise ventures in any respect ranges.
The brand new apps, in the meantime, are being developed below the Digital India rubric by the Nationwide Informatics Centre (NIC). Functioning below MeITY, NIC supplies the help system for the supply of the federal government’s IT companies and Digital India initiatives.
Earlier this month, a Bengaluru-based startup launched Koo, a Twitter-like microblogging platform. Recognised as a star instance of the Centre’s Make In India initiative, Koo instantly drew key authorities officers and arms as customers. Inside 5 days of its launch, its person base soared by over 900,000. That occurred amid Twitter’s faceoff with the Indian authorities over free speech and native legal guidelines.
“These initiatives are all part of the federal government’s Aatmanirbhar initiative,” a supply mentioned referring to Sandes.
The time line for the rollout of this app stays unclear.