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Government looking to ban official communication via Gmail

In a bid to ensure security for confidential government information and tackle cyber-spying by the US, Indian government is looking at banning the use of Gmail (the email service from Google) for official communication. As per a report by The Economic Times, the government plans to send a formal notification regarding the same to nearly 5 lakh employees. It seeks to ban the use of foreign email service providers such as Gmail that have their servers outside India, and will push them to stick to National Informatics Centre's official email service.

J Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology, was quoted saying, "Data of Indian users reside 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."

However, the report quoted a Google India spokeswoman who said that the company has not been informed about the ban. "Nothing is documented so far; so for us, it is still speculation," Google said in an email response.

This move is in response to the revelations by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. He revealed that the NSA had access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat-rooms and video from large companies, including Facebook and Google, under a programme known as Prism. After the revelations, NSA stated on its own website, "NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people." Snowden was charged with espionage after disclosing the agency's surveillance programmes.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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