In a bold move aimed at bolstering the security of sensitive government communications, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has instructed her cabinet to ditch widely-used instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. Instead, ministers and their top staff are urged to embrace Olvid, a Paris-made chat application developed by cryptography researchers and supported by various French tech accelerators.
A ministerial circular issued by Prime Minister Borne emphasized the need for heightened security in digital communications, urging officials to install Olvid on both phones and computers. The circular, which was reported by French magazine Le Point, sets a December 8 deadline for ministers to make the transition. Borne stated, “The main consumer instant messaging applications are playing an increasingly important role in our day-to-day communications. However, these digital tools are not without security flaws and so cannot guarantee the security of conversations and information shared via them.”
Olvid, designed to be a more secure alternative, is positioned as a replacement for other messaging systems within the government to safeguard exchanges that may contain confidential information. The app, run by two cryptography researchers, has garnered support from various French tech accelerators, solidifying its credentials in the cybersecurity realm.
While widely-known platforms such as Meta’s WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal have been the preferred tools of communication within French political circles, concerns about their security flaws have prompted this unprecedented shift. Even President Emmanuel Macron, known for his tech-savvy approach, is reported to be a regular user of messaging apps.
The move not only reflects the French government’s commitment to enhancing digital security but also underscores the growing recognition of the potential risks associated with popular messaging apps. Olvid’s emergence as a homegrown alternative aligns with the broader trend of nations seeking to reduce reliance on foreign-developed technologies for critical communication infrastructure.
As the December 8 deadline approaches, French officials are expected to embrace Olvid, marking a significant transition in the country’s digital communication landscape.