Citing privacy concerns, the Swiss army has banned the use of Meta-owned WhatsApp among other popular messaging services by army personnel.
At the end of December, commanders and chiefs of staff received an email from headquarters recommending that their troops switch to using the Swiss-based Threema.
The recommendation applies “to everyone”, including conscripts doing their military service and those returning for refresher courses, army spokesman Daniel Reist told AFP.
Switzerland is famously neutral.
According to reports, the primary concern appears to be the "ability of authorities in Washington to access data stored by companies that fall under US jurisdiction, as described in the US CLOUD Act".
"The CLOUD Act obliges service providers under US jurisdiction to comply with search warrants, regardless of where servers are located," according to reports.
However, its long-standing position is one of armed neutrality and the landlocked European country has mandatory conscription for men.
The question of using messaging apps on duty came up during operations to support hospitals and the vaccination program in Switzerland’s efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic, Reist said.
The Swiss army will cover the four Swiss francs ($4.35, 3.85 euros) cost of downloading Threema, which is already used by other public bodies in Switzerland.
Other messaging services such as WhatsApp are subject to the US Cloud Act, which allows the United States authorities to access data held by US operators, even if it is held on servers outside the country.
Since Threema is based in Switzerland, it would not be obliged to respond to such search warrants.
"Data security is one of the reasons for the policy change, according to an army spokesman quoted in a report by Tamedia newspaper.
WhatsApp is the most popular messenger application among 16- to 64-year-olds in Switzerland, according to local surveys.
It is not financed by advertising. “All communication is end-to-end encrypted, and the app is open source,” the company says on its website.
Threema, which claims 10 million users, says it is an instant messenger designed to generate as little user data as possible.
After the center banned some Chinese mobile apps due to security concerns in 2020, the Indian Army met its staff with 89 apps such as Facebook, PUBG, Zoom, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. I asked you to delete the related apps.
The Indian Army has now launched a state-of-the-art messaging application called “ASIGMA” (Army Secure IndiGeneous Messaging Application).
This application can be used on mobile phones using the internal military network. According to the Ministry of Defense, “This application has been deployed to the Army’s internal network as an alternative to the Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) messaging application that has been used for the past 15 years.”
Due to security concerns, the Swiss Army has banned WhatsApp and allowed the use of homemade apps.