Amid the raging controversy over privateness on WhatsApp, the federal government is planning an entire new strategy – its personal model of the messaging app.
Sources within the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeITY) have confirmed to NDTV that two such apps are being examined of their beta stage. They have been codenamed Samvad and Sandes, actually “dialog” and “message”, respectively.
“These apps are being developed fully by the federal government of India. It goes to be an prompt messaging app like WhatsApp,” mentioned a MeITY functionary. NDTV has learnt that the federal government additionally has plans for an app known as GIMS – Government Instant Messaging Service – meant just for authorities of India staff to speak.
“A necessity was being felt inside the authorities for a really very long time to have our personal, impartial, and self-owned prompt messaging service. Development of those apps started approach earlier than the current WhatsApp controversy,” mentioned the supply.
The largest benefit of this app will probably be that “we’ll by no means have to fret about knowledge being stolen and used for business positive factors by massive tech”.
However, its acceptance amongst individuals could be gauged solely after a public roll-out – it is not clear nonetheless if each Samvad and Sandes or solely one in every of them could 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 just a few 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 attainable that one in every 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 lately when it unilaterally modified its service and privateness coverage asking for knowledge to be shared with Facebook, its mum or dad agency. Though it later put the plans on maintain amid the privateness debate, a sense remained inside the authorities that the easiest way ahead was to have one’s personal various. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court deemed it a match 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 effectively-identified faces, too, has added to the general anxiousness over privateness and safety. All the extra so because the platform has more and more change into a useful software in enterprise ventures in any respect ranges.
The new apps, in the meantime, are being developed below the Digital India rubric by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). Functioning below MeITY, NIC supplies the assist 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. Within 5 days of its launch, its consumer 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.