After BlackBerry, India targets Google and Skype

The Indian government is now clamping down on Google and Skype, after demanding access to Research In Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry’s systems for security reasons.

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The Indian government is now clamping down on Google and Skype, after demanding access to Research In Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry’s systems for security reasons.

The government is worried that online and mobile communications are increasingly being used by terrorists to plan their attacks.

It therefore asked for access to BlackBerry’s enterprise server and its instant messaging application, last month. Furthermore, India’s home secretary, G.K. Pillai, said that notices have been sent to Google and Skype, calling for them to set up servers in India so that communications through their systems can also be monitored.

A spokesperson for Google in India told Computerworld UK: "We have not received any communication on this issue from the government and thereby, unable to comment."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Skype said: "We have not received any confirmation or directive from DoT [India's Department of Telecommunications] on this matter, and therefore are unable to comment at this stage.”

The news of the extended crackdown was not unexpected.

Last month, Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), said that at a meeting he attended in July of the country’s Department of Telecommunications, it was discussed that other online services besides BlackBerry would also be asked to provide access to India’s security agencies.

In a statement, India’s home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said that the government had started accessing Blackberry data from yesterday.

“Discussions for technical solutions for further access are continuing and the matter will be reviewed within 60 days,” he said.

The government had said it would be putting proposals from RIM for lawful access of its networks by law enforcement agencies in India into operation ‘immediately’, though it did not specify the details of the proposals.

RIM avoided a ban in Saudi Arabia last month after reportedly agreeing to provide access to some of its services to the local authorities. The local regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission, dropped the threat to ban some BlackBerry services after RIM agreed to provide it access to servers located in the country, according to an official of the country's regulator, who declined to be named. RIM did not issue a statement or comment on the developments in Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia and Lebanon have also indicated that they would like access to data transmitted on RIM's networks in their country, while the United Arab Emirates has threatened to suspend some BlackBerry services if they do not fall in line with the country's regulations.

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