India Seeks to Monitor Google and Skype

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India seeks permission from Google Inc., Skype Ltd., and other similar service providers to allow the country’s security agencies to monitor their user services to prevent terrorist using such services.

In a statement yesterday, junior Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Sachin Pilot said that “there are a whole list of companies that have been asked to give [access]…provide solutions.” He added, “Law enforcement agencies, the home ministry and intelligence agencies want that information for national security.”

India fears that terrorists would use services that are heavily encrypted such as Skype and Google, and security agencies have no access to monitor them. However, both Skype and Google said that they have not received any intimation from the ministry.

Earlier, India sought permission to monitor email services of Blackberry, a service from Canadas Research In Motion Ltd.

While the BlackBerry maker already permitted the Indian security agencies to monitor Internet browsing and messenger services used on its smartphones, it maintained that intercepting corporate emails is impossible as there is no technology available that allows monitoring of the service.

In December, mobile handset maker Nokia Corp. had set up servers in India that allows security agencies to monitor its consumer email services.

India stated that companies who wish to operate in the country should give access to the security agencies to monitor the encrypted communication services.

This makes it mandatory for the communication service providers such as Google and Skype to use local servers. Such a step would subject their services to local laws and permit authorities to have lawful access to peoples communications.

After the Google China Censorship controversy, it is yet to see how Google and Skype are going to react.

Skype provides telephony services over the internet on personal computers, mobile phones, and other devices, while Google offers a host of services such as web search and email.

Sources: Reuters, Wall street Journal

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