France builds WhatsApp rival due to surveillance risk

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PARIS (Reuters) – 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.

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (L) use their smartphones after a family photo after the first cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool/File Photo

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…



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