Fear of privacy breaching and data leaks
With Facebook breaching trust with user data after its Cambridge Analytica scandal, apps associated and acquitted by Facebook namely Whatsapp and Instagram are under fire. Everybody wants to stir away from controversy and data leaks. Since most of these platforms are based in the USA, this puts a risk to national security of countries concerned with privacy issues.
Whatsapp not trusted in Europe anymore due to bad history
WhatsApp already has a bad history with Europe in general when it comes to security, especially in France. In December 2016, the European Union issued a complaint and fined Facebook due to misleading information over its acquisition of Whatsapp in 2014. Similarly, France followed suit by warning Whatsapp officials to stop sharing information with Facebook. One would think that either of the social networks would comply but that never happened. France claims Facebook has not cooperated with CNIL, France’s data protection authority while the social network still kept transferring Whatsapp data for “business intelligence”. This has put Facebook and Whatsapp in a bad light all over Europe, especially France.
The need for a new messenger platform in France
President Macron and his officials are avid users of Whatsapp and just like everybody else, like to stay connected through apps. Now they fear their data and information will leak. So they are basically planning to create a new messenger platform with an access within France and in case of a scandal or trouble, they can pull off the plugs and take authority of the situation. The French spokeswoman told Reuters, “We need to find a way to have an encrypted messaging service that is not encrypted by the United States or Russia. You start thinking about the potential breaches that could happen, as we saw with Facebook, so we should take the lead.”
France is testing now and submitting app by Fall
France is still mum about their custom alternative to Whatsapp but according to Reuters reports, the app is being designed and created by a state-employed developer and will be based on “free-to-use code found on the Internet” with no names of either the codes or the messaging service. But seems like the French Government has made some progress by already installing smartphones with a software created by French security firm, Thales, to prevent the use of either WhatsApp or Telegram. The app is currently being tested by about 20 officials and top civil servants in the French government with the aim of releasing the app by Fall or end of summer.
Now we will have to wait and watch to see if the app will only be restricted to just government officials and will it gain momentum among the French citizens when released. Can France really take the lead on creating the next social messaging platform?