Maharashtra govt working on its own version of WhatsApp

Maharashtra govt is all set to wear the tech gear and build its own messaging app, akin to the popular WhatsApp


Maharashtra govt is all set to wear the tech gear and build its own messaging app, akin to the popular WhatsApp, Rajesh Aggarwal, principal secretary of the state information technology (IT) department told DNA.

The reason for building its own app is more to do with security. Today, several government officials (District to Taluka level) are using WhatsApp and various groups are created to communicate and share information, points out Aggarwal. This could be deemed dangerous in the backdrop of the vast scale surveillance by the western powers.

Last year, after revelations about NSA surveillance by whistle blower Edward Snowden, the Maharashtra govt had asked its officials to use official email IDs instead of Gmail and Yahoo and also take all necessary measures to protect private data of citizens. Moreover, it had also sent out an advisory asking all departments to take precautions while using Google Maps and cloud-based services. It also demanded all government websites be hosted on Indian servers only.

Now, with its own messaging service, it will ensure that officials communicate and share information securely as the app will be hosted on government servers. In case of information leak or hack, it gets difficult in investigating the case if the servers are hosted outside India. Moreover, Indian laws cannot be applied on those agencies.

According to the report, the Centre also plans to 'ban the use of private email services for official communication' in order to protect sensitive data. Instead of private email ids like .com, .org or .org.in, officials must use government websites with domain names like .nic.in or .gov.in, adds the report.

The messaging app will add to the list of several tech initiatives that Maharashtra government has taken including online filing of RTI, e-challan for traffic violations in Thane and Navi Mumbai, online applications for government quarters and more. It will also launch 'Aaple Sarkar' portal and mobile app on the Republic Day.


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