Indian Government initiates App Challenge to develop Zoom Alternative amid security concerns

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The Indian government has launched a video conferencing app development challenge for Indian companies with prize money of Rs. 1 crore. The innovation challenge has been introduced at a time when security issues have been highlighted in the popular Zoom video-conferencing app.

“Innovation Challenge for Development of Video Conferencing Solution” has been introduced by the government to facilitate Work from Home (WFH) that has become a new normal for crores of people in the country. WFH means that a huge amount of information is being shared online, giving rise to concerns over the privacy of the conversations and control over the app and data shared through the app.

The app development program began registration on April 13 and the last date for registering is April 30. The video conferencing app should be able to work on any kind of device, in poor network areas, should have encrypted communication, and should use less power.

The results of the government challenge will be announced on 29 July. The winning team will be given Rs. 1 crore to release the app for use by central and state Governments across India and a certificate by Minister of Electronics and Information Technology.

The Indian government had issued an advisory last week warning against using the Zoom app. The Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of the Home Ministry said that the app should not be used by government officials owing to security concerns. Earlier, CERT-In, India’s nodal agency that deals with cyber-security threats, had also warned that the Zoom video conferencing app may be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Several organizations like Google and Standard Chartered have directed their employees to not use Zoom.

In India, many have been using the Zoom app as a part of their new WFH routine during the ongoing lockdown that came into force after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Several High Courts in India have conducted hearings on Zoom.


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