The Narendra Modi government is in the process to set up its own messaging service for mobile phones. Pilot tests are being conducted by the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) for the platform, reported The Financial Express.
The platform will be named Government Instant Messaging Service (GIMS). It is expected to be rolled out in late 2020.
GIMS may also be used by state governments apart from central government offices and departments, sources said.
Government Instant Messaging Service is a unified messaging platform being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). This platform will also set up the e-mail service for government departments.
According to a report in The Financial Express, a senior government official said that GIMS has been built through an open-source solution in accordance with the policy on the adoption of open-source software for government by MeitY, thus, ensuring the government’s strategic control over the solution. It provides a multilingual platform with 11 local languages and will go live in English and Hindi initially that will be followed by other languages.
“The app (GIMS) has been developed for both Android and iOS platforms and at present beta testing is going on. A total of 17 government organisations including the ministry of external affairs (MEA), ministry of home affairs (MHA), CBI, MeitY, Navy, and railways are participating in the testing. Currently, there are around 6,600 users who have generated close to 20 lakh messages,” the official added.
Two states of Odisha and Gujarat have also been participating in the beta testing, the official said.
Such a messaging service is very important, in view of software like Pegasus. It can be used to snoop on conversations on WhatsApp, said an ex-government official, who has handled cybersecurity threats against the government in the past.
“Today, almost every ministry has its own chat group on commercial platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. Often officials discuss strategic and sensitive issues on these platforms. With cybercriminals or rogue states targeting such communication, it is high time India has its own government instant messaging service. Such services are crucial today for effective and efficient administration,” he explained as quoted by Financial Express.