Google refuses access to Gmail encryption for Indian government


Google refuses access to Gmail encryption for Indian government

Jenny Williams

Google would be unwilling to provide encryption keys of its e-mail service, Gmail, if requested to do so by Indian authorities, according to a company executive.

India outlined plans to extend its crackdown on Research In Motion's (RIM) Blackberry services to other communication service providers, including Skype and Google, in September this year.

Vinay Goel, Google India products chief, told Indian newspaper The Economic Times, it is impossible for Google to provide real-time access to the Gmail service if Indian authorities request for Google to share encryption keys.

"When users entrust their data with us, we are expected to protect it, which is why user privacy is very important for Google," said Vinay Goel.

He added that the company would offer Indian government access to encrypted Gmail communications "in the event of a large-scale risk to human life and property".

The decision stems from India's concerns that terrorists will use encrypted communications to co-ordinate attacks similar to those in Mumbai in 2008.

Blackberry-maker RIM faced increasing pressure from Indian authorities to provide access its data and faced criticism from other countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. All three governments requested access to Blackberry's encrypted corporate e-mail service and messaging services, amid fears these could be used by terrorists.

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