India said to seek Google, Skype call interception

The announcement comes two days after a deal is struck with Research In Motion

Google, Skype and other companies providing communications services in India will have to make provisions for interception of these communications by India's security agencies, Indian home secretary, G.K. Pillai, said in Delhi on Wednesday, according to reports.

A home ministry spokesman declined to provide further information, including whether a date had been fixed for issuing notices to the companies.

The development comes two days after the Indian government announced that it was giving Research In Motion an extension of 60 days to try out the solutions RIM had proposed to give Indian law enforcement agencies access to communications on its network.

The government had last month given service providers offering the BlackBerry service until Aug. 31 to provide access to BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messaging services or face a ban on these services.

On Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs also said in a statement that any communication through telecommunications networks should be accessible to law enforcement agencies and all telecom service providers including third parties had to comply.

India may ask Google and Skype and some other online services to make communications on their networks accessible by the country's law enforcement agencies, Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), told IDG News Service last month.

Chharia said that at a meeting he attended over a month ago at the country's Department of Telecommunications, there was discussion of asking other online services besides RIM to provide access to India's security agencies.

The country wants to intercept mobile and online communications as its security agencies have found that terrorists are increasingly using email, instant messaging, and mobile phones to plan their attacks.

Under Indian law, service providers have to give law enforcement agencies access to communications on their networks, under certain conditions, including by providing decryption keys. The Indian government seems at this point to be targeting Google's Gmail and Skype's Internet telephony service, analysts said.

A Google India spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the company had not received any notice from the government, and would review and respond only if and when it does hear from those authorities.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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