India: Hand over your data Google, Skype

After postponing service ban on BlackBerry, India government now turns focus on search giant, Internet telephony company and other virtual private networks with demands for access to data, AFP reported.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

India has instructed Google and Skype to allow its government to monitor their customer data or face being banned from operating in the world's second-most populated nation, according to a new report.

An AFP article Tuesday confirmed previous reports that the U.S.-based search giant and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider were next in line, after Research In Motion, to face scrutiny from the Indian government. AFP said the request to monitor the companies' data will extend to virtual private networks as these services allow remote users to access their corporate network.

According to the newswire, notices will be sent out to the U.S. service providers starting Tuesday, where the companies will have to comply with the government's directive or risk being shut down.

This development comes on the heels of the Indian government's move to provide RIM a 60-day grace period, during which government officials will evaluate the BlackBerry maker's counter-proposal to allow its wireless subscribers' communications to be monitored. One such proposal includes placing a RIM server in India to cater to the government's request.

Just last week, Google released its own VoIP service which can be accessed through its Gmail e-mail service.

In a previous ZDNet Asia report, an analyst said while the Indian government has the right to monitor data in the interest of national security, it must ensure such access complies with international standards around data privacy and that vendors are not unfairly singled out.

Earlier this month, Skype filed an initial public offering (IPO) in hopes of raising as much as US$100 million while networking giant Cisco Systems is rumored to be courting the VoIP company.

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