Turkey launched a domestic messaging app called PttMessenger which it claims is safer than WhatsApp, but caused concern among some critics regarding the government using it to tighten surveillance, Reuters reported.
The app is currently available to state institutions and some private companies and will likely open up to the public in six months time.
Deputy PM Bekir Bozdag told a news conference “since no data is stored with the host, it will be impossible to access these data. A system safer than WhatsApp has been developed.”
However, critics believe authorities will use it to monitor dissent as part of a government crackdown which began after a failed military coup in July 2016. They are worried PttMessenger might become a mandatory download for the electronic devices used by these institutions, and maybe even for emoloyees’ personal devices.
“An app designed with government support, especially if that government is Turkey, where there are serious violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, should make potential users think not three, but five times about using it,” Reuters quoted Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, as saying.
More than 50,000 people have been jailed in the aftermath of the coup and 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs.
This week a draft law was submitted regarding regulators overseeing online content providers, a move the main opposition described as digital censorship. An estimated 40 per cent of the Turkish population were active WhatsApp users as of December 2016, according to research company Statista.