The Turkish AKP government has launched a "native and national version" of WhatsApp dubbed the "PTT Messenger application." The program will first be used by state institutions before being opened to the public.
Developed by Turkey’s national post directorate, PTT, the new instant messaging application uses "100 percent local and new software," Deputy Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Feb. 5 after a cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
Yet, the 'domestic' messaging application caused to be raised concerns about the safety of users that the government could benefit the program to increase surveillance on citizens.
Responding the concerns about safety and privacy of users, Ahmet Arslan, the Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication, stated, "We are very assertive about the safety of domestic WhatsApp. We design this system with such a cryptology that we only connect the sender and the receiver. No data can be stored in this application; so it will be impossible to access the private data of users."
Saying that "We should convince our citizens to the safety of this application", Arslan noted that the program will first be used by public institutions, then they will serve for private institutions in accordance with their requests.
'Domestic and national' WhatsApp-like app will start individual service 6 months later, according to the Turkish government's plans.
One of the invasive regulations – Law No. 5651 – requires each telecom company to log and store user activity for up to two years and submit that data to the government when requested by a court. The Homeland Security Act, passed in 2015, allows the Turkish government to spy on suspects’ telecoms connections for 48 hours without the need to get permission from a judge.