At a time when the Centre has locked horns with the microblogging site Twitter over blocking of certain accounts, several ministers and departments of the Union government have started flocking on Koo App — a homemade version of the social networking platform.
But how did the app rise to prominence out of the blue?
According to The Indian Express, the app was launched in early 2020, and its participation and the subsequent winning of the government’s Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge brought it under the limelight. The app, along with other India-made apps like Zoho and Chingari — the local version of TikTok, won the challenge, which was launched by the Centre close on the heels of banning scores of apps with Chinese links citing national security concerns. Following the outcome of the Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge, the app was also mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat address.
According to the newspaper, commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Law & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Members of Parliament Tejasvi Surya and Shobha Karandlaje, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, Isha Foundation’s Jaggi Vasudev, former cricketers Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble are among the politicians, ministers and celebrities to have joined the app. In addition, the Union IT Ministry, India Post, and the Niti Aayog are among the government departments to have an account on the app. Ace IAS officers like Sonal Goel can also be found on the app.
The fact that several ministers and politicians are putting their weight behind the Indian microblogging site, especially at a time when the world’s largest platform in this segment has not responded in the most favourable terms to the Indian government’s demands, is a key indicator of the government’s willingness to push an alternative to the social networking platform.
In a recent development, a French security researcher has accused the app of exposing personal data of users, according to Business Insider.
According to Robert Baptiste who goes by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y), Koo is exposing sensitive user information like email address, date of birth, gender, and marital status. Baptiste has, in the past, exposed flaws in various government apps and websites, including the government-mandated Aarogya Setu app, which the Indian authorities have vehemently refuted.