Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Pakistan to launch its own WhatsApp-like app by June 2021


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has planned to launch its own WhatsApp-like messaging app, Smart Office, by June 2021 which will include all modern communication features besides announcing to expedite work on finalising Personal Data Protection Bill, ARY News reported on Friday.

After the recent security concerns raised by global users and masses in Pakistan over WhatsApp new privacy policy, Federal Minister for Information Technology (IT) and Telecom Aminul Haque said that ‘Smart Office’ app will be launched by the Pakistani government by June 2021.

Read: WhatsApp scrambles as users fret over privacy

pakistan whatsapp messaging app smart office launching

He said in a statement that the federal cabinet issued orders to develop an app like WhatsApp for government employees. Haque added that it is now necessary to expedite work on the Personal Data Protection Bill.

The federal minister said that the government is fully aware of concerns of WhatsApp users over its policy update and privacy rights of the users could not be violated. He also expressed serious concerns over the Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s move to start deleting user accounts for not accepting its policy update.

Read: Signal to ramp up hiring after WhatsApp controversy

“WhatsApp should have taken opinion from users before updating its policy and no company is allowed to impose its decisions to its users through constraints.”

“The policy should be the same for global users. The new policy will not be effective in some countries including Europe, Brazil and the United States.”

Haque’s statement is followed by the decision of the federal government taken a few days back to develop its own messaging app through collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Information Technology and IT experts in order to provide a digital communication medium to the nationals with complete protection of the people’s data, messages and personal information.

pakistan whatsapp messaging app smart office launching

According to IT ministry, in the first phase, the app will be launched in major cities after being developed on an experimental basis.

Read: Whatsapp controversy: Turkey’s top officials, institutions switch to new messaging app

On January 13, the Ministry of Information and Technology had said that it is monitoring the current developments and clarifications provided by Facebook. “It is brought to notice that subject changes in privacy are applicable on WhatsApp business accounts only while regular non-business/individual profiles/accounts are not affected,” reads the statement.

IT ministry further said that all digital platforms should strengthen their engagements with Govt of Pakistan so that concerns of the general public and businesses can be well addressed by all means.

It is pertinent to mention here that the policy update of Facebook-owned app WhatsApp is widely being criticised by users across the globe, calling it a serious threat to their privacy.

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