Feeds

Indian government to bar politicians from using Gmail for official business

US-based email services seen as too risky

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The government of India is reportedly planning to bar its employees from using Gmail and other foreign-based email services, amid concerns over surveillance by US spy agencies.

"Gmail data of Indian users resides in other countries as the servers are located outside," J Satyanarayana, India's secretary of electronics and information technology, told the Times of India. "Currently, we are looking to address this in the government domain, where there are large amounts of critical data." 

The Indian government currently employs some 500,000 people, many of whom use Gmail for their primary email addresses. A quick glance at the contact page for the country's Department of Electronics and Information Technology reveals at least eight senior officials using Gmail, and still others with Yahoo! addresses.

Under the new directive, government employees will be asked to stick to official email addresses provided by India's National Informatics Centre (NIC). But an unnamed senior government IT official told the Times of India that many government workers choose Gmail and other foreign services because they are easier to use, and setting up accounts is much faster than working within the bureaucratic process of the NIC.

The move toward locally run email for Indian government workers comes in the wake of a string of revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Among the recent disclosures has been details of US electronic surveillance of foreign governments on US soil, where the National Security Agency even went as far as to snoop encrypted communications from United Nations headquarters in New York City.

No doubt equally concerning was a motion filed by Google in a US district court earlier this month, in which the Chocolate Factory asserted that "a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties" such as Gmail.

But Sunil Abraham of the Bangalore-based think tank the Centre for Internet and Society said that foreign spying wasn't the only reason why government officials should be required to use a homegrown email.

"Use of official government email would also make it easier to achieve greater transparency and anti-corruption initiatives," Abraham told the paper. "Ministers, intelligence and law enforcement officials should not be allowed to use alternate email providers under any circumstance."

When contacted for comment, a spokeswoman for Google India said the company had not been informed of the proposed ban, adding, "Nothing is documented so far, so for us, it is still speculation." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.