Pakistani App Beep to Launch Soon for Government Officials

Beep Pakistan, an upcoming alternative to messaging app WhatsApp, is expected to launch soon. The new app is meant to help government employees send documents, messages, photos, video/voice notes and other communication without facing concerns about hacking or leaking reports.

The government, through the app, can supervise and monitor sensitive conversations and confidential information, unlike with WhatsApp which is end-to-end encrypted.

The app is being developed by the National Information Technology Board (NITB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication (MoITT).

“We will launch this for the federal government at first and see how to extend it beyond into the private and corporate sectors in the near future,” NITB CEO Shabahat Ali Shah told Naya Din on July 9 in an interview.
The application, which is being tested, is expected to run smoothly when it launches.

“The idea behind the creation of this application is to create a secure infrastructure and platform that the government officials can use without the risk of eavesdropping or hacking into sensitive data,” Shah said.

He also added that the government has multiple data centers for the app, and the one that will be used is known as the NTC. There are multiple firewalls and layers of security added onto the application and configured to extend the privacy of the users of the application, he added.

Federal Minister of MoITT Aminul Haq said the app should launch within the year and that rules for its usage will be made in due course. The app will be a major revolution in the IT sector and will increase employment opportunities, he added.

The app will be governed under the Ministry of IT, he said.

WhatsApp’s privacy concerns

WhatsApp’s initial announcement that its users would have to accept controversial privacy policy changes was met with backlash from activists and users. In January, the messaging app revealed a new privacy policy which would allow businesses greater access to customer information, enabling further targeted advertising on Facebook. This sparked concerns over privacy, security and transparency.

Eventually, users began installing apps from competitors of the Facebook-owned company, such as Signal and Telegram. BBC said that, according to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, Signal saw worldwide downloads totaling 246,000 the week before WhatsApp announced the change on January 4. The week after the announcement, this amount rose to a whopping 8.8 million. In India, downloads rose from 12,000 to 2.7 million, while in the UK and US, downloads rose from 7,400 and 63,000 to 191,000 and 1.1 million, respectively.

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