Indian Government to ban use of US email services for official communications

The Government of India is planning to ban the use of US based email services like Gmail for official communications and is soon going to send out a formal notification to its half a million officials across the country asking them to use official email addresses and services provided by National Informatics Centre.

The move is intended to increase the security of confidential government data and information after it was revealed earlier that NSA may be involved in widespread spying and surveillance activities across the globe.

In a statement to reporters here J. Satyanarayana, secretary in the department of electronics and information technology, said that data of Indian citizens using US based email services like Gmail is residing on servers which are located outside India and for now the government is concerned about the large amount of official and critical data that may be resident on those servers.

About a week ago Kapil Sibal, the Communications and IT minister of India while addressing the parliament, had said that the government was working on a new email policy that will be targeted towards securing government communication. Sibal had revealed at the time that the new policy will enforce rules such as use of static IP addresses, virtual private networks and one-time passwords for accessing Indian government email services on all Indian officials who are stationed abroad.

Sibal had also revealed at the time that government officials will be required to use National Informatics Centre’s email servers, which are located in India. He said, “All Indian missions will use NIC servers which are directly linked to a server in India and that will keep government information safe.”

Government surveillance and spying activities have taken a toll on some of the privacy oriented services lately and Lavabit and Silent Circle, which were known to provide secure email services, are the latest victims. New Zealand recently passed its controversial spy law which will enable New Zealand’s spy agency to legally support local law enforcement agencies and national defense forces by carrying out surveillance operations on citizens as well as residents.