Indian govt’s version of WhatsApp ‘Sandes’ under testing: Report

"These initiatives are all a part of the government's Aatmanirbhar initiative," the source said, referring to Sandes.

New Delhi: Amid raging concerns of privacy on WhatsApp, the government developed its own version of the messaging app called ‘Sandes’, reports said. It is currently being tested for use.

Along with ‘Sandes’, ‘Samvad’ is also being tested in their beta stage, sources in the ministry of electronics and information and technology (MeITY) told NDTV. “These apps are being developed completely by the government of India. It is going to be an instant messaging app like WhatsApp,” said the report, quoting a MeITY functionary.

“These initiatives are all a part of the government’s Aatmanirbhar initiative,” the source said, referring to Sandes. Once the beta testing is over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is expected to dedicate the app to the nation.

The source told that the government was intending to have its own, independent and self-owned instant messaging service, way before the WhatsApp privacy controversy began.

The biggest advantage of this app will be that “we will never have to worry about data being stolen and used for commercial gains by big tech”. However, its acceptance among people can be gauged only after a public roll-out—and it is not clear if both or one of them will make it there.

Sandes is available on Apple store for a few people to test. It has a blue-and-white interface with the Ashok Chakra as its logo. It authorizes and verifies only government employees for now.

“It may entirely be possible that one of these apps shall remain for the internal consumption of government employees and not be rolled out for the public,” the source said.

The time line for the rollout of this app, however, remains unclear.

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