Information Technology

Government launches ‘Sandes’ app, an alternative to WhatsApp

The Government of India has launched the ‘Sandesapp, an alternative to WhatsApp. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the application, which is now available on Google play store and Apple’s App Store for all. Earlier, the app was available for Central and State government employees for official communication since August 2020.

The legal battle between WhatsApp and Govt

The government is pushing the Sandes app for general use since WhatsApp has landed in hot waters due to non-compliance with the new intermediary rules. The Indian Government is fighting legal disputes with WhatsApp over its privacy policy as well as the traceability mandate under the rules.

Details of Sandes App

It is just like any other instant messaging app. Anyone can register to use it with their mobile number or email id. Currently, government employees and agencies linked to the government are using this app.

Speaking at the launch event, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology of India, Rajeev Chandrashekar said:

Sandes is an open source-based, secure, cloud-enabled platform. It is hosted by the government and on government infrastructure ensuring the control remains with the government only.” 

Safety features of the app

The app has features such as one-to-one and group messaging, file and media sharing, audio-video calls, and e-governance application integration. Although there is no option to transfer chat history from Sandes to other apps or vice-versa, users can back up chats to their email. 

In addition, Sandes allows a user to mark a message as confidential. According to the app’s description, the app will let the recipient know that he should not share the message with others. This tag however does not change the way the message is sent from one user to another. It is simply a warning for users. The launch of the homegrown instant messaging app is also intended to drive more Indian users away from the global tech giants and dilute their monopoly.

Is it going to be WhatsApp’s rival?

India has over 530 million (53 Crore) WhatsApp users. It is the largest market in terms of users. Sandes is far from a direct rival at the moment. As per the Google play store, the app has over 100,000 downloads with an average rating of 4.4/5.

It has received mixed reviews with many users complaining about glitches, and contact syncing issues among others.

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Pukhraj Biala

I am an undergraduate student at Symbiosis Law school, NOIDA, pursuing B.A.LL.B. I am a problem solver who believes in reaching to a conclusion by weighing all the options and identifying the best possible one. I find Technology Laws quite fascinating and I continue to follow and learn the subject.

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