The Government of India has announced that it may ban private email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook for official communications between its employees because of the potential implications of surveillance being carried out by the NSA and therefore the US Government. The leaks against NSA have alleged that the secretive organisation had collaborated with various US technology companies to spy on data being hosted on these companies’ servers.
The Government has announced a new email policy which will require employees in the public sector to route all their communications via National Informatics Center’s email service. The new policy seems to be in the final stages and the Government is looking to put it into practice by December end. The new policy aims to protect crucial government and administrative data which may be under the dangers of the alleged surveillance. Most US email service providers do not provide the Government with any details about Indian user data because they say that the data resides in the US servers where the Indian Government doesn’t have any jurisdiction. This also means that communications between Government functionaries also lies on an US server, which is more prone to spying by NSA.
The new email policy will require an upgrade of the NIC infrastructure which is estimated to be around Rs.5 crore to start with. However for a full scale deployment all over the country, the estimated investment might be around the Rs.50-100 crore figure. The Government is also looking at utilizing cloud infrastructure to make it easy for various divisions of the Government to communicate with each other in a better way.
All this translates into a loss of trust for these US based email services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail. While the companies in question have denied the allegations presented by the Snowden revelations, it also seems they are forbidden by a secret court called FISA to disclose the extent of their collaboration with the US Government. The allegations, both proven and unproven have given many users a jolt because many expected these services and companies to respect their data. While privacy activists have been warning about the data collection by these companies for the last decade, the full extent and implications of this are now beginning to show.
Source | The Hindu Businessline