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India govt to block Google, Skype?

Minutes from meeting between government and telcos suggest search giant and Internet telephony company next on list of companies to be blocked in the country following ban on Research In Motion, according to news report.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

Minutes from a private meeting have revealed that search giant Google and IP telephony company Skype are next in line to be targeted by the Indian government, following its crackdown on Research In Motion (RIM).

According to a report late Thursday by the Financial Times, Google, Skype and other communication services are now on the government's black list. The Indian government had earlier threatened to shut down BlackBerry services over security concerns regarding its encrypted BlackBerry e-mail and instant messaging services, giving RIM until Aug. 31 to "come up with a technical solution" or risk being evicted from the country.

Financial Times said the latest update came from minutes of a Jul. 12 meeting between India's Department of Telecommunications (Security Wing), telecoms and Internet operator associations in which the parties discussed a possible solution for security agencies to intercept and monitor encrypted communications. FT said it has seen the government document and has confirmation of the details from "two of the operator associations present".

According to the report, the minutes noted that "there was consensus there [is] more than one type of service for which solutions are to be explored...Some of them are BlackBerry, Skype, Google". It was decided that BlackBerry would be the first to be addressed followed by the other services, said the minutes.

In the report, Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India was quoted to say government agencies had talked about BlackBerry in the last security meeting and "were also coming out heavily on Skype and Google" which they will tackle "one by one".

The latest development follows similar threats made earlier this month by Middle Eastern countries United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, to shut down BlackBerry services over security issues. Saudi Arabia later allowed BlackBerry Messenger services to continue while it works with RIM to find a workable solution.

In the region, Indonesia was reported to consider banning BlackBerry services though it later clarified would not do so, according to Wall Street Journal reports.

In a ZDNet Asia report last month, an industry analyst warned that the Indian government should tread carefully in pushing its demands to monitor data and put in place measures to ensure businesses are not unfairly singled out as well as to keep in line with international laws around data privacy.

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