Messaging services are well in the news this week. We look at it from all sides, fiddled around and doubted. The problem is that nobody seems to know for sure which solution ensures that you as a user have absolute privacy.
Both WhatsApp and Telegram are therefore in the news and they are forgiven if you do not know what is safe anymore. The answer to that question seems to be this week: depends on who you are.
The French government has decided to build a chat program, because they no longer believe that WhatsApp or Telegram are 100% safe. In both apps, every message sent is encrypted so that even the owners of the programs can not read. In principle, that should be completely safe.
However, that was not good enough for France. They wanted their own messaging service “where the messages are not encrypted by the US or Russia,” said a spokesman for the government. The app is now being tested and if it all works properly and the French government is provided, the app could possibly also be made available to citizens.
Telegram ( the app ) has another problem: the Russian messaging service is boycotted in their own country because they refuse to hand over their (self-invented) encryption method to the local authorities. Therefore, a Russian court ruled that the app should be removed from the App Store and Google Play Store in Russia. The app has already been blocked in Russia by the court, but many Russians bypass that blockade with a VPN.
In itself you could become enthusiastic about it as a privacy enthusiast: if the makers of the chat app dare to resist the Russian government, they will take privacy very seriously. But here too: you never know for sure. For the same money there will be a raid, the rules for Russian or international users will be different, or just call a different doom scenario. Maybe they do well in France: if you do not make it yourself, you never know for sure.
How do I chat safely?
What does that mean to us normal users? Despite the encryption of the messages, WhatsApp still has some privacy problems because data is shared with its parent company Facebook, but is ultimately fine for normal use.
Terrorists apparently like to use Telegram, but that does not mean that you can not use it. There are still fifteen choices such as Signal but they are often so small that they only work in small groups, so that is not advisable. If you are satisfied with your app, you do not have to do anything (yet).