Swiss Army Banned from Using WhatsApp and Telegram, Here's Why


The Swiss military has banned its soldiers from using the messaging apps WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal. Instead they were told to use a local messaging app called Threema.

This announcement was distributed by letter to Swiss military officials at the end of December 2021. The original letter said other messaging services would not be allowed, as quoted from the Associated Press, Monday (10/1/2022).

But Swiss military spokeswoman Delphine Schwab-Allemand said the use of Threema was only a recommendation. He added the military could not and did not want to order soldiers to use certain apps on their personal devices.

This rule applies to all members, including conscripts who are currently serving in the military and those who are returning for training.

The Swiss local messaging app was chosen to replace WhatsApp et al due to privacy concerns regarding the ability of the United States authorities to access data.

Even though the three banned apps already use end-to-end encryption so messages can't be snooped on by others, they can still collect metadata that reveals who sent the message and when.

In 2018, the US government passed the US CLOUD Act regulations. Under this law, US authorities can require companies to provide user information on request, regardless of server location.

As a Swiss company that does not have servers in the US, Threema does not have to comply with the request if it receives a search warrant.

The Swiss military said Threema followed European regulations regarding data protection. Unlike other messaging services, Threema does not require users to provide a phone number or email address when creating a new account.

Threema, which claims to have 10 million users, is a paid app. The Swiss military said they would cover the cost of downloading the Threema app of 4 Swiss francs .

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