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India plans to develop ”desi” version of ZOOM

The Indian government is planning to bankroll the development of a ”desi” video-conferencing mobile application, which will initially cater to the Central and state government entities.

Significantly, the development comes at a time when the Centre has red-flagged Zoom app over security concerns. As per plans, under the Digital India program, the Centre has called upon India-based developers to create a tool with primary function of video-conferencing.

This solution from the concept stage will be scrutinized for various aspects, including data security features. The selected application will get a contract for use by Central and state government entities for video-conferencing purposes for a period of four years.

The developers will also be free to market their product to entities outside the government organizations.

According to the IT Ministry, the selected solution will receive Rs 1 crore in the first year and an additional support at the rate of Rs 10 lakh per year for the next three years towards operation and maintenance of the application.

Lately, travel restrictions imposed due to the lockdown measure has made these applications quite popular. Presently, the majority of non-essential service sector manpower is working from home. Many business establishments are heavily reliant on these applications to coordinate their workforce and conduct meetings.

At present, major IT players, including Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex, have developed such applications which differ in features but offer the commonality of allowing for video-conferencing using mobile phones.

Incidentally, the Cyber Coordination Centre (CCC) of the Ministry of Home Affairs in an advisory issued on April 12 mentioned that “secure use of Zoom meeting platform is for private individuals and not for use of government offices or official purposes”.

The government said that the CERT-In had been informed on February 6 and March 30 this year, clarifying that “Zoom is not a safe platform

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