Google, Skype under fire in India

09:18, September 01, 2010      

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After BlackBerry won a reprieve, Google and Skype stepped into the firing line Tuesday as India's security agencies widened their crackdown on telecom firms.

India's 1.1 million BlackBerry users heaved a sigh of relief late Monday after the government gave the smartphone's manufacturer a two-month window to provide a permanent solution to avert a ban on its corporate messaging services.

Security forces in India, battling insurgencies ranging from Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast, are insisting that telecom groups give them the capability to monitor their data.

Skype, the Internet phone service, and Google, which uses powerful encryption technology for its Gmail e-mail service, are set to be next to receive an ultimatum from New Delhi.

"If a company is providing telecom services in India then all communications must be available to Indian security services," a spokesman for the home ministry told AFP.

"If Google or Skype have a component that is not accessible, that will not be possible," he said, asking not to be named in line with standard government procedure in India. "The message is the same for everybody."

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that notices would be sent to Skype and fellow US Internet giant Google from Tuesday.

A spokesman for Google, Gaurav Bhaskar, told AFP that the company hadn't yet received a notice.

"Once we receive it, we will be in a better position to comment on what they are looking for," he said, adding that he expected the concern to be the Gmail service.

Skype was unavailable for comment.

India is also targeting "virtual private networks," which give employees secure access to their company networks when they are working out of the office.

The maker of the BlackBerry, Canada's Research in Motion (RIM), has proposed setting up a server in India through which BlackBerry messages can be routed, the home ministry said.

RIM's proposals for "lawful access" to its messages would be "operationalized immediately" and their feasibility assessed, the ministry said.

A RIM official told AFP that the company had not compromised its public commitment to make no special deals with governments.

BlackBerry has also been dealing with a threatened October 11 ban by the United Arab Emirates and is negotiating with Saudi Arabia on security issues.

Source: Global Times

(Editor:黄蓓蓓)

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