The Swiss army has decided to prohibit the use of popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. Due to data protection concerns, the new rules, which went into effect in December, require all employees to switch to a locally developed alternative.
In December, Swiss army commanders and chiefs of staff were advised via email from headquarters to ensure that their troops switched to the Swiss messaging app ‘Threema.’ The rationale was given as information security.
The instruction explicitly prohibits the use of other apps: “all other services are no longer permitted,” according to media with access to the email’s content. However, it is unclear whether those who do not stop using WhatsApp will face any consequences.
The Swiss Army is also expected to cover the four Swiss francs required to download Threema.
“The recommendations apply to everyone in the army, including new conscripts and those returning for refresher training,” Swiss military spokesperson Daniel Reist told AFP. Authorities cited the need for secure communications as Swiss soldiers needed to operate in multiple regions to support the Alpine country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since WhatsApp is owned by Meta, a company based in the United States, everything would be subject to the US Cloud Act. Regardless of where the servers are located, the Act requires service providers in that jurisdiction to comply with search and seizure warrants and other foreign apps.