Probably you remember that recently the Government of India asked RIM (Research In Motion) to give access to its encryption key for the BlackBerry messaging services to Indian security agencies. RIM has a deadline of January 31, 2011 to hand over the keys or BlackBerry devices will be banned in India.
Indian Government has also asked Skype to setup local servers in India so that Indian security agencies can monitor the Skype communications. If Skype don’t comply, then it will be banned.
Now the Indian security agencies, Union home ministry and the Indian telecom department are exploring the idea of mandatory sharing of all the communications details by software and web services firms in India.
But even before Government of India asks Google to share the Gmail encryption key with Indian security agencies, Google India products chief Vinay Goel has already made it clear that Google will not share Gmail’s encryption key under any circumstances. Although he also said that,
We are not advocating non-compliance and are definitely open to offering the Indian government access to encrypted Gmail communication in the event of a large-scale risk to human life and property.
But this stand of Google may be unacceptable to the Government of India as one cannot know beforehand when a large scale threat may arise. In fact, the monitoring of Gmail is proposed only to find the possibility of any such threat.
Also, According to the Information Technology Act of India, the security agencies of India can ask Gmail, or any other similar service provider, for the encryption keys.
Thus, if Google keeps its stand and does not comply with the directions, then the Government of India may ban Gmail. If this happens, what alternative do we have? What do you think Google should do? Share your thoughts using the comments form below.