The government will soon ask all its employees to stop using Google's Gmail for official communication, a move intended to increase security of confidential government information after revelations of widespread cyberspying by the US.
A senior official in the ministry of communications and information technology said the government plans 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, and instead asking them to stick to the official email service provided by India's National Informatics Centre.
J Satyanarayana, secretary in the department of electronics and information technology, said, "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.”
The move comes in the wake of revelations by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the 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.
Documents leaked by Snowden showed that NSA may have accessed network infrastructure in many countries, 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.