For its internal use, the government plans to develop a messaging application like WhatsApp, suitably encrypted to keep prying eyes out and official communication secure. This is a splendid idea. Confidential missives have come a long way since the time bigwigs would impress molten beeswax with their insignia to seal a little scroll pushed into a locket around a carrier pigeon’s neck. The trouble is that private technologies have been ahead of what governments like ours can manage. This is no reason for India not to create a sarkari platform of its own, one that does not rely on any private firm’s promise of security.

India isn’t the only country to think of it. Earlier this year, France launched its Tchat App for official communication by government officials. North Korea and China also have customized versions of popular apps for the exclusive use of their officialdom. Given the privacy violation storm that has hit Facebook Inc. in recent times, it would be no surprise if other countries followed suit. It’s good that New Delhi has moved quickly on this. The real question is whether it can muster the expertise required to keep official communication shielded from hackers, whose expertise appears to be rising. If the Indian government actually pulls off such a feat, it could popularize a public version of the app for everybody’s use. With its heft, it could create the necessary “network effects" needed for such an app to catch on across the land and lure Indians away from Facebook’s WhatsApp.

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