Govt to Introduce Its Own WhatsApp-Like App and Smart Office by June

The government plans 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 finalizing Personal Data Protection Bill.

The Ministry of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication on Friday quoting federal minister Amin ul Haque said that the ‘Smart Office’ app will be launched by the Pakistani government by June 2021.

Haque said that the government is well aware of the concerns of Pakistani users regarding the updated policy of social media app WhatsApp and reprioritizing its policies, under which preparing a Personal Data Protection Bill, expediting work on a chat application for government employees and increasing contacts with social media companies are included.

He said that the federal cabinet issued orders to the ministry for developing 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 the 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.

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.

According to the IT ministry, in the first phase, the app will be launched in major cities after being developed on an experimental basis. 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 the Government of Pakistan so that concerns of the general public and businesses can be well addressed by all means.

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