back to article France building encrypted messaging app for politicians

France's government has built an encrypted messaging app for government use. The move was announced last Friday on radio station France Inter by digital secretary of state Mounir Mahjoubi (here in French). Mahjoubi said the aim is to create an end-to-end encrypted app to be “internal to the state and intended to replace” non- …

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  1. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I hope they built in a backdoor, to prove all us techies wrong. *Sits back with the popcorn*

    1. DougS Silver badge

      You laugh

      But there may well be one built in for their equivalent of the CIA/GCHQ, because I'd really be surprised if those at the top trust all the lesser politicians and their staff to have surveillance proof communications.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      There's two types of encryption then.. one for them that's very secure and one for everyone else that's less than secure. Which seems to be pretty much of the way government works since much of the legislate has an out for those in power. Still looks like the calendar is set for 1984.

  2. as2003

    Liberty*, Equality*, Fraternity*

    * for those in charge

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Meat Loaf approves of their efforts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Meat loaf? Does this mean theres self destructing "gone when the morning comes" messages?

        Or because they will do anything for chat, but wont backdoor that?

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Devil

          Maybe he meant "life is a lemon and I want my money back"...? Hard to disagree with that...

          1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

            I would do anything for (backdoor) love ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I meant what all of you said.

              Seriously, you're all perfect. Though dealing with these snoopers does make me pray for the end of time.

      2. Michael Strorm

        @Mycho; "Meat Loaf approves of their efforts".

        "Liberté, égalité, fraternité".... two out of three ain't bad?

  3. Crisp Silver badge

    An app with a limited number of users will get less scrutiny from most security experts.

    Except from "interested computer professionals", who you can bet will be scrutinizing it for every vulnerability it has.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: An app with a limited number of users will get less scrutiny from most security experts.

      @Crisp

      Not when those "users" are exclusively either high value targets, or worse, those the high value targets let work their smartphones for them.

      I'm sure it'll get plenty of "checking and testing" from many interested parties.

    2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Re: An app with a limited number of users will get less scrutiny from most security experts.

      I wonder if some of those "interested computer professionals" might be located in Moscow. Although I suspect they're not official ones, just "hobbyists" you understand...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An app with a limited number of users will get less scrutiny from most security experts.

      An app with a limited number of users will likely mean said users use alternative messaging apps to chat with the rest of their contacts...

      Or setup some sort of alternative systems to allow them to conveniently access all of their contacts, bypassing the additional security...

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    If you really want to know what wannabe Napoleons and Josephines are thinking

    Oh la la ..... another Walled Perfumed Garden to Crack/Hack/Access.

  5. malle-herbert
    Big Brother

    "an app whose encryption isn't controlled by the US or Russia."

    No, but the OS and Firmware are... so fat-chance there aren't any backdoors in them...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "an app whose encryption isn't controlled by the US or Russia."

      True. The French may send each other messages with encryption. The US government can (and will and have repeatedly in the past) force Microsoft/Google/Apple to make a platform intrusion (like say, a screenshot) for them without telling non-US citizens who have zero rights in the US.

      They can do so silently, because these companies are not allowed to talk about this kind of mandatory intrusion.

      We need to quit American technology if it keeps treating us like we have no rights. Building a chat-app on top of their software is not going to give any privacy.

  6. petur

    |matrix| ?

    I thought it was a fork of |Matrix| ?

    https://twitter.com/matrixdotorg/status/984792919902126080

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: |matrix| ?

      That's hard to say, because unfortunately noone can tell you what the matrix is.

      1. Joe Harrison

        Re: |matrix| ?

        That's hard to say, because unfortunately noone can tell you what the matrix is.

        I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill your process and roll you back into storage...

      2. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Re: |matrix| ?

        That's hard to say, because unfortunately noone can tell you what the matrix is.

        Oh! Oh! Me, sir! Me! I know what the Matrix is! It isn't a spoon, sir! *looks smugly at colleagues planning to beat me up at playtime the pub in the carpark*

    2. petur

      Re: |matrix| ?

      https://www.tomshardware.com/news/france-alternative-whatsapp-telegram-spying-concerns,36898.html

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "why Mahjoubi wants a homebrew app is something of a mystery...

    ... since in common with all modern administrations, the French government has an extensive and encrypted parliamentary network and secured e-mail"

    ... could it be because they don't yet have a chat app?

  8. wolfetone

    Forgive me if my French is a bit useless, especially as I managed to score an E in it during my GCSE's. But isn't "Macron" French for "absolute war mad fuck nugget"?

    1. James 51

      I got a F but I am going to go with non.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        I got a 'U'. Beat that.

        Didn't stop me moving here.

        1. wolfetone

          "I got a 'U'. Beat that.

          Didn't stop me moving here."

          Show off.

        2. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

          Beaten!!!

          I was the only one in my year to be barred by the school from taking French lessons let alone sit the exam. They tried my doing German for nearly a whole term as well (another fail). But I can speak Java and C so it's not really a problem.

        3. Scroticus Canis
          Thumb Up

          I got a 'U'. Beat that.

          I got told by the French teacher to "never never darken his classroom door step again" after forgetting to go to an exam! Do I win?

          Yep, I also ended up living in Paris (long ago) and learnt French in the Tabacs and Cafes. Crap pidgin French but good enough to insult the locals :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I got a 'U'. Beat that.

            Pah, I got a "U" in my computer studies!

            Although what the hell installing an OS, locating drivers, getting a printer to print, cleaning the heads on a floppy disk, setting IRQ's and DMA's etc etc had to do with a fucking relational database I have NO idea.

            I've fixed thousands of desktop and laptops, but never ever had to fuck around with a database.

            "Computer" studies my big fat white Yorkshire arse...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Macron is French for being born in France.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Macron is French for being born in France

        I believe he's a dire critic of those who are not.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Has anyone called it that since the 1990s?

      "Forgive me if my French is a bit useless, especially as I managed to score an E in it during my GCSE's"

      If you had people dealing ecstasy in your classroom, it's no bloody wonder you were too distracted to pass your GCSE.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Has anyone called it that since the 1990s?

        Well, look at Lance Armstrong. Winning all those bicycle races whilst using drugs!

        When I use drugs I cant even find my bike, let alone ride it.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: isn't "Macron" French for "absolute war mad fuck nugget"?

      Of course, you're absolutely right.

      He has a long history of insulting other countries, threatening with nuclear armageddon and pathetically calling people names like "Rocket Man".

      Oh no, wait, that's Trump.

      You were saying ?

      As for fuck nugget, I cannot possibly comment on your tastes. My wife would agree he does look rather fetching, though.

    5. Teiwaz Silver badge

      But isn't "Macron" French for "absolute war mad fuck nugget"?

      Sure it isn't Macaroon?

      Damn, now I'm hungry.

      ''This is my mother, her name is Michele, she is under the table.'

      That was one french translation I did.........Well, I thought it might be right....

      ...on the table wouldn't have been any better.

      was there a table in the first place....?

      Nyah!! It was twenty plus years ago.

    6. The Nazz Silver badge

      re Macron

      Macron ( le Blair francais, or le Blair lite francais if you prefer) is french for the standard, hypocritical lying twat of a politician.

      According to this article from the BBC (though how it got published given that his PC Diversity rating is low is beyond me) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43794856 it quotes him :

      "He urged the EU to renew its commitment to democracy, in a passionate speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg."

      So, you smarmy twat (did i mention Blair lite), you won't be insisting on forcing Hungary et al to accept millions of immigrants they clearly do not want, and democratically voted for. By a majority result far more impressive than that succesfully won in the Brexit referendum.

      Listening in to these people is not a job i could keep down (nor my lunch) for too long.

      Excuse my French, grade 9 here (not quite a U but probably a grade K by modern standards)

      "Oooh la la, do you reckon that stroppy Brit, Theresa May, is a bit of a goer?"

      "Err, after you if you must"

      "well, would you?"

      "non"

      Yes please, unbreakable encryption if you will.

  9. defiler Silver badge

    Plus ça change...

    The haves setting different rules for the haves and the have-nots. The French have prior form on this sort of thing. I seem to recall it got a bit choppy.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Plus ça change...

      Just wait for the app reaching version XVI...

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Plus ça change...

        Just wait for the app reaching version XVI...

        Or come on, everyone should eat pastry when bread is not available.

  10. JakeMS

    New law

    We need to be sure there are no corrupt politicians or terrorists within the government, thus we must mandate backdoors in any and all encryption software used by pelicans in the government.

  11. Dr_N Silver badge

    How times change

    I remember when it was "illegal" to pgp files here.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: How times change

      > I remember when it was "illegal" to pgp files here.

      Yepp this is the same France where encryption was illegal until quite recently. Even GSM had to have an exception for France so that the don't encrypt A5/0 mode was normally known as French mode.

  12. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Pint

    Vendage, Fleurie, [year redacted, but it was a good one]

    When I was working at a French vineyard a young Irishman arrived. The farmer asked him his name. Conner, he replied. The farmer said, "I can't call you that, I'll call Jacques instead!"

    I know it's off topic but thought you might need a laugh on a Tuesday morning.

  13. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Big Brother

    Do as I say...

    ...not as I do.

  14. Toilet Duk

    They should just use a system of one-time pads and a network of motorcycle couriers if they want security.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mounir Mahjoubi - strangest French name I've ever seen

    How many people does the French government have in charge that are from 99% muslim countries?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morocco#Religion

    Maybe there's a reason why I keep seeing videos about thousands of "refugees" assaulting lorries trying to drive down the freeway. I thought France was ran by French people, but every time I see some news report from Europe these days it's a Muslim in their government doing something. Why aren't the high official positions in government restricted to not French citizens?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadiq_Khan for example.

    How in the world did you folks have a Union for less than a score and get this infiltrated?

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    every time I see some news report from Europe these days it's a Muslim in their government doing something.

    Because it's the only way to keep the Huguenots from seizing power.

    Why aren't the high official positions in government restricted to not French citizens?

    I think restricting French government positions to not French citizens might be unfair. There are many French citizens who would be good at government positions. The trick is to avoid the ones called "General"

    ps Although Boris claimed that London is the biggest French city Sadiq Khan isn't actually a French government official (unless Brexit negotiations have taken a rather unlikely turn)

  17. Dave 15

    serets

    Politicians are there to represent us, to be democratically accountable to us. Yet they want to spy on us while hiding from us?

    Only politicians can fail to see how stupid and dangerous that all looks.

    Macron was recently preventing the french from a say on the eu because they would say out, then saying that there needs to be more democracy, then hiding his comms

    The only thing sensible here is setting up security that you control. you wrote and not to depend in any way on other / even for hardware

  18. The Nazz Silver badge

    Off topic i know but french lessons ....

    would have been so much more interesting if the study material had been Brigitte Lahaie, Dominique St Clair (the female one) even Cathy Menard.

    So my mate tells me.

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