Sandes, an instant messaging platform and alternative to WhatsApp has been launched in India. The Centre on Friday announced the domestic messaging app will be available both on Android and iOS platforms.
Sandes instant messaging app launched to counter WhatsApp
As per the CNBC TV18 report, Minister of State for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar cited about the app in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on July 30. The mobile app is said to have been hosted exclusively at government infrastructure. Similar to WhatsApp, users will be able to use the ‘Sandes’ app by entering a valid mobile number and an email ID. At the moment, the app is being used only by government officials and agencies linked to it.
“Sandes is an open source-based, secure, cloud-enabled platform. It is hosted by the government and on government infrastructure ensuring the control remains with the government only. With features like one-to-one and group messaging, file and media sharing, audio-video call and e-gov application integration, etc. It is available at Google Play Store and the App Store,” Rajeev Chandrasekhar quoted saying via CNBC TV18.
As per the outlet, the government conceived the idea of a homegrown instant messaging app during its first tenure. NIC (National Informatics Centre), the IT wing behind the development of this app, released Sandes’ first version on August 20. However, the government planned to fast-track the project during the pandemic, as per the report.
Notably, the move comes following the spat with WhatsApp over end-to-end encryption and the new IT Rules. The government reportedly decided to pursue and launch ‘homemade apps and software to develop an ecosystem of Indian-made products’ following its clash with the social media network.
Currently, the Sandes app is integrated with NIC email, DigiLocker, and e-office. As per the description on Google Play Store, the app supports end-to-end encrypted messaging, encrypted backup, and encrypted OTP service. The privacy and data policy are governed by the GoI (Government of India) rules and regulations. The app store mentions that for verification, employees in government organisation will have to contact the Nodal officer of their Ministry/Department. While the app is strictly meant for government employees (likely to secure confidential data), it remains to be seen as to when the government might release the app for the general public.
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