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Friday Jan 15 2021
Web Desk

Pakistan set to launch WhatsApp alternate: IT minister Amin ul Haq

Web Desk
A Reuters representational image.
  • Smart Office app to be launched in June 2021 for govt officials
  • IT ministry developing similar app for citizens 
  • Personal Data Protection Bill drafted, says Amin ul Haq

Pakistan has become the latest country to domestically-develop a messaging app to potentially replace WhatsApp. 

California-based WhatsApp said on January 4 it reserved the right to share some data including location and phone number with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. This move has led governments around the globe to investigate the implications of data sharing. 

Federal Minister for Information Technology Amin ul Haq shared on Friday that a WhatsApp alternate, named Smart Office, is being developed and is currently under the testing phase. If approved, the app will be used by government officials and employees. 

Talking to Geo News, he said the app will be released by June 2021. "A similar app is being developed for all citizens to use," he added, stressing that it would offer complete protection of user data and communication record. 

He revealed that the ministry has prepared a Personal Data Protection Bill 2020 which will be sent to the law ministry for legal review before it is presented before the federal cabinet.

"The new legislature takes into account international laws and policies of social media companies. It has been drafted after taking recommendations from stakeholders."

Amin ul Haq said the bill seeks to protect Pakistani consumers as well as promote economic activities. 

The federal minister said under the newly-implemented social media rules, social media companies are required to set up offices in Pakistan. He added that the government is awaiting tech companies' response.