The French government is building its own messaging platform after Russian-owned Telegram runs into issues
When the fallen-from-grace Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg admitted earlier this month that the company has the ability to read private messages, we weren’t all that surprised. It was, however, a wake-up call for the millions of people who use such messenger services – including, seemingly, governments.
Now, the French government is apparently taking precautions as it announces that it is building its own end-to-end encrypted messenger service to quash fears of data breaches and surveillance.
The home-built service designed on “free-to-use code found on the internet” will initially be used by 20 French officials. But after it’s been checked and tested, the French government hopes to have every official using it by the summer. The app will be used to communicate logistics and technical information, rather than anything sensitive or operational.
“We need to find a way to have an encrypted messaging service that is not encrypted by the United States or Russia,” a spokesperson told Reuters. “You start thinking about the potential breaches that could happen, as we saw with Facebook, so we should take the lead.”
If the French state-developed messaging platform is successful, the messaging service could be opened up to every French citizen.
At the moment, most of the French officials have been using either the Facebook-owned WhatsApp or the Russian app Telegram. President Emmanuel Macron famously used Telegram to organise his campaign for the 2017 presidential election last year and has reportedly been using it ever since. Logistics of the First Lady’s visit to a zoo earlier this month was also organised on the app.
But Telegram’s founder has recently been butting heads with the Russian government, who has requested access to the encryption keys to the app following the St. Petersburg terror attack in 2017. Refusing to comply, the Russian watchdog on Monday announced in a statement that it would be blocking the service and calling for its removal from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.
With the French government’s current reliance on Telegram, it makes sense for it to create its own secure messaging platform, considering the Russian crackdown on Telegram. Taking into account the post-Facebook data breach era we’re living in right now, other governments may follow suit.