Snooping by the National Security Agency is not only limited to US citizens; it is also keeping a tab on international users by accessing data with the help of tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. In its reports, Guardian had stated that USA has collected 6.3 Billion data from India in March 2013 through its Prism program by tapping into the servers of tech companies for information including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats.
Now to safeguard its data the Indian government is soon planning to ask its employees to stop using Google’s Gmail for official communication, reports WAT. In the story that was initially covered by TOI, the government plans to send a formal notification to nearly 5 lakh employees barring them from email service providers such as Gmail since they have their servers in the US, and instead asking them to stick to the official email service provided by India’s National Informatics Centre.
The move to safeguard the critical data of the Indian Government isn’t gaining much support right now. Officials in the IT department expressed that employees are fond of Gmail because of its ease and simplistic design. Moreover official email services face bureaucratic processes for the mere creation of accounts since employees need to be verified.
The move would also mean that all government officials living abroad will have to use NIC servers that are directly linked to a server in India while accessing government email services, as stated by IT Minister Kapil Sibal last week.
However, what is interesting is that the IT minister has said there has been no evidence of the US accessing Internet data from India. So one wonders why the government is dictating its employees to not use email services like Gmail?
Besides this, previously, the Foreign Minister of India Salman Khurshid has gone on record supporting the surveillance program Prism built by US government. According to the Foreign Minister, US was not “snooping” and the intention was finding a pattern of telephone calls and emails. A similar thought was shared by the US President Barack Obama, who had argued that the programs have protected Americans with only “modest encroachments” on their privacy.
Meanwhile India has also developed its own Prism replica called the Centralised Monitoring System which will keep a track of the online and mobile activities of the citizens. So it is evident that NIC servers wouldn’t be spared and the Government wants to have a tight grip on the activities being carried out by its employees considering the national interest.
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