Politics, Europe

Swiss army bans use of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram apps for military purposes: Report

Swiss military opts for 'more secure' local Threema messaging service that is not subject to US Cloud Act

Peter Kenny   | 05.01.2022
Swiss army bans use of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram apps for military purposes: Report

GENEVA

The Swiss armed forces have banned the use of WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram messaging services for military purposes, Swiss media reported Wednesday.

The army command wants to make internal communications more secure by banning the three apps for military purposes. It has done so from Jan. 1, the Tages Anzeiger and other newspapers linked to its holding company Tamedia reported in Switzerland.

According to the Tages Anzeiger, the Swiss military has chosen the “more secure” Swiss messaging provider Threema for these purposes.

"Since the company is based in Switzerland, it is not subject to the Cloud Act like American companies," the daily quoted army spokesman Daniel Reist as saying.

Under this law, US authorities have access to data from American companies, even if they are not stored in the United States.

Threema can also be used anonymously and does not require any personal data.

The report says that the military should generally use Threema for business communication at the "internal" level and up to the "confidential" level in some formations.

The army spokesman said that other means of military communication, such as radios or tap-proof data lines, will continue to operate independently.

WhatsApp, owned by US company Meta (formerly Facebook), is the most widely used messaging application in Switzerland.

According to surveys quoted by Swiss media, it is the application of choice for more than 80% of people among 16-64 year-olds in the country.

The Swiss military plays an essential part in Switzerland as every male citizen is required to serve in the military or in the alternative civilian service.

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