The French government is building its own encrypted messenger service to ease fears that foreign entities could spy on private conversations between top officials, the digital ministry said on Monday.
None of the world’s major encrypted messaging apps, including Facebook’s (FB.O) WhatsApp and Telegram – a favorite of President Emmanuel Macron – are based in France, raising the risk of data breaches at servers outside the country.
About 20 officials and top civil servants are testing the new app which a state-employed developer has designed, a ministry spokeswoman said, with the aim that its use will become mandatory for the whole government by the summer.
“We need to find a way to have an encrypted messaging service that is not encrypted by the United States or Russia,” the spokeswoman sa.id. “You start thinking about the potential breaches that could happen, as we saw with Facebook, so we should take the lead.”
The U.S. social network, which bought WhatsApp in 2014, has drawn heavy criticism since it acknowledged that information about many millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
The French government’s encrypted app has been developed on the basis of free-to-use code found on the Internet and could be eventually made available to all citizens, the spokeswoman said. She declined to give the names of either the codes or the messaging service.