Matrix pilot: BwMessenger

German armed forces testing open source chat

16/01/2020

The Bundeswehr, Germany’s unified armed forces, is testing the use of Matrix, a secure open source chat software solution, the federal defence ministry told the German parliament in December. According to the ministry, the software could potentially be used not only by the armed forces but also by other government departments.

The image shows defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer against a background of digital numbers and characters.
Germany's defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced the Matrix pilot in November. (c) image: mvg.de

The use of Matrix is being considered by a government cross-departmental specialist working group, the ministry wrote in response to written questions from MP Anke Domscheit-Berg (Die Linke). The testing of secure chat software was mentioned in a briefing to the Bundestag (parliament) by defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in November.

Alongside the Matrix pilot, entitled BwMessenger, Germany’s Chancellery and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) are also testing Wire, another open source chat service, developed by the eponymous Swiss-based company.

It’s public

In France, Matrix is already being used by some 500 civil servants across central government. France adapted the software to create its own version, named Tchap. This was unveiled last year, and allows fully-encrypted exchanges coupled with temporary passwords and central management of user accounts. France developed Tchap together with New Vector, the UK-based software company that is developing Matrix.

The German pilot also involves the Matrix developers, reports the German open source news site Golem. It points to a message posted by the Matrix team on Twitter, saying they are happy that the cooperation is now ‘public’.

More information:

Written questions and answers, Bundestag (page 63/64, PDF, in German)
Heise news item (in German)
OSOR news item on Tchap
Golem news item (in German)

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