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France developing encrypted messaging service to prevent data breach

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-04-17 17:49

PARIS - The French Government is developing an encrypted messenger service to prevent private conversations between top officials from being eavesdropped on, the Ministry of Digital Affairs said Monday.

Officials are testing a new messaging application, developed with government funds, a ministry spokesperson said. Once it passes the tests, the service will be made mandatory for the entire government by summer.

She also said the encrypted app is based on freely available codes on the internet and could eventually be open to the public.

With privacy concerns being a major issue these days, French officials are not allowed to use WhatsApp or Telegram on their smartphones.

None of the current mainstream messaging apps, including French President Emmanuel Macron's favorite Telegram, which has been developed by Russia, are based in France. This enhances the risk of the data stored on servers outside the country being breached.

"We need to find a way to have an encrypted messaging service that is not encrypted by the United States or Russia," the spokesperson told the press. "You start thinking about the potential breaches that could happen, as we saw with Facebook, so we should take the lead."

French privacy watchdog National Commission on Informatics and Liberties fined Facebook, which has bought WhatsApp, 150,000 euros (about $160,000 based on the exchange rate at that time) in May 2017 for breaching the French Data Protection Act, including collecting users' data without their knowledge and permission.

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