Recently, a software, Pegasus, was discovered that could snoop on private chats. With this in mind, the government is reportedly venturing on building an alternative to WhatsApp. The alternative app is scheduled to be launched later this year.
It is said that the government has set up a team under the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to work on building an instant messaging platform. This unified messaging platform aims to relay official communication between government employees.
The app is supposed to make communication have better confidentiality and security. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been closely monitoring the platform development, and it is called Government Instant Messaging Service (GIMS).
GIMS is said to connect the officials of both state and Central governments. However, the state governments can take a call on opting for the platform based on their discretion.
Currently, MeitY has been running pilot tests for GIMS. About 17 government organisations, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Central Bureau of Investigation, Indian Railways, Indian Navy, and MeitY, are participating in the pilot tests. Also, Odisha and Gujarat governments have been a part of these tests. Around 6,600 officials from various organisations are covered under the pilot programme. It is said that they have exchanged about 20 lakh messages so far.
The GIMS platform is developed using opensource software that can be used both on Android and iOS smartphones. Also, the service is made user-friendly as it is available in 11 local languages in addition to Hindi and English. Once the initial launch is done, the other regional versions of the platform will be rolled out.
One of the primary reasons for coming up with a government communications app is that the Pegasus snooping fiasco impacted a few government officials across the world. Various governments understood the need for coming up with an alternative to widely popular instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram. Despite boasting end-to-end encryption for the messages, the chats are still not secure.
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