Government To Abandon Gmail Offical Use For Nearly 5 Lakh Employees
Government of India will soon ask all its employees to stop using U.S based email services like Google’s Gmail for official communication. The move is intended to increase the security of confidential government data and protect it from overseas surveillance.
The move comes in the wake of revelations by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to Edward Snowden, US government had direct access to large amounts of personal data on the internet such as emails and chat messages from companies like Google, Facebook and Apple through a programme called PRISM.
A senior official in the ministry of communications and information technology said the government of India is planning to send a formal notification to nearly 5 lakh employees barring them from email service providers such as Gmail that have their servers in the US. Also strictly asking them to stick to the official email service provided by India’s National Informatics Centre.
“Gmail data of Indian users resides in other countries as the servers are located outside. Currently, we are looking to address this in the government domain, where there are large amounts of critical data,” said J Satyanarayana, secretary in the department of electronics and information technology.
Documents leaked by Snowden showed that NSA may have accessed network infrastructure in many countries. Which causing concerns of potential security threats and data breaches. Even as the new policy is being formulated, there has been no mention yet of how compliance will be ensured.
Several senior government officials in India, including ministers of state for communications & IT Milind Deora and Kruparani Killi, have their Gmail IDs listed in government portals as their official email.
Last week, IT Minister Kapil Sibal said the new policy would require all government officials living abroad to use NIC servers that are directly linked to a server in India while accessing government email services. Sibal said there has been no evidence of the US accessing Internet data from India.