by Timothy Geigner

Filed Under:
allies, email, india, nsa surveillance, surveillance

India Wants To Ban US-Based Email Systems For Government Communications Over NSA Concerns

from the pissing-off-our-allies dept

Back in June and July, during much more innocent times, Glyn Moody and Tim Cushing doubled up on stories about the intrusive surveillance system India had set up and commented on how the NSA must have been drooling over having that kind of capability. Now, those stories probably seem sweetly ignorant, since we know much more about what the NSA is both capable of doing and how little restraint they suffer, but the point is that India is not made up of saints when it comes to respecting the privacy of their citizens.

But, having said that, India is an incredibly important friend and ally of the United States. They're an important trading partner and a nation with aligned goals when it comes to fighting terrorism. So it may be a sign of trouble that India distrusts the American government enough to force government officials to pull their email from American-based email providers.

The move is intended to increase the security of confidential government data and information after it was revealed earlier that NSA may be involved in widespread spying and surveillance activities across the globe.

In a statement to reporters here J. Satyanarayana, secretary in the department of electronics and information technology, said that data of Indian citizens using US based email services like Gmail is residing on servers which are located outside India and for now the government is concerned about the large amount of official and critical data that may be resident on those servers.
That's the problem with unfettered hubris from a global power like the United States: you're going to start losing friends. It's one thing to spy on unfriendly nations. That might still have its problems, but you're going to have an easy sell to your citizens on the question and it doesn't matter all that much if you're found out because, hey, the spied-upon already hate you. But when you begin turning your spy-sights on your allies, particularly allies as important as the Indian government, you just have to wonder whether more harm than good will come of all this. Yes, there's a cynical response that this also helps those in power in India better use their own surveillance capabilities to spy on everyone within the government, but that doesn't diminish the potential harm between US and India.

In an increasingly connected globe, the postures of our allies are every bit as important as those of our enemies. The American government pissed off a friend in India, Hopefully that won't come back to bite us.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    gorehound (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    We Citizens are pissed off at our Government and for many reasons.They are not our friends.I for one am glad to see India do this and other Nations.I hate this Government........I love our Nation.Our Government are the Criminals not fuck with us and others.
    You Make the Bed You Sleep In US Gov !

    In other News is everyone ready to lose some of your money over yet another Default ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    No, the prior items seem hopelessly naive.

    "those stories probably seem sweetly ignorant," -- As in the latter: "Makes The NSA Look Like A Paragon Of Restraint" -- Sheesh. -- I assume that here you're slyly taking a shot at both by linking to those howlers. Well played, Timmy.

    I pointed that up with title of my censored post: Ah, here's the "not as bad as" excuse. Because no matter what happens in India, doesn't affect me as much as NSA and Google. The billion Indians are just going to have to solve their own problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    AzureSky (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    the sad part, thats still not gonna stop our govt from spying on them if they really want to...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    AzureSky (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    Re: No, the prior items seem hopelessly naive.

    reported(so you know it isnt auto hide system thats hiding your incessant google bashing.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

    The US sucks.
    India sucks.
    I have no love for either one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Yes, but...'s absurd to even think about hosting any government entities' email (that includes public universities, by the way) anywhere but inside those entities.

    A mythos has grown up over the past 10-15 years running an email system is hard. This is nonsense. It's only hard if, through poor design choices, one makes it hard. (Source: running email systems since before most of you knew there was a 'net to run them on.) Hosting a decent email system for (let's say) a 20,000-student college or the state department of transportation or the senate is a straightforward exercise if prudent choices are made.

    And that's the trick, really: and it's one that most miss. They deploy Exchange and Outlook, they install Barracuda devices, they install anti-virus products -- every single one of those a catastrophic blunder that sabotages their chances of success. Then they complain that "Email Is Hard" and outsource to Microsoft or Google. The proper solution is fire the idiots that made such appallingly stupid decisions and hire people who have at least a baseline level of competence in the field.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 5:45pm

    I believe you will hear more of this in the days to come. One by one, more governments are going to decide they have secrets they want to keep as their secrets.

    Privacy is a bigger deal in Europe than here (other than some selected countries and I think in the end that more of them will elect to seek other places to do their internet business and their communications other than ones tied directly to the US.

    What did the NSA and our government think would happen when this came out? Did they some how believe it would never be exposed? Now that it is out, no one is doing anything that restores the confidence in them. Quite the opposite in that every pitch to support it has left the public and the world open mouthed at the audacity of some government supposed to be representing the land of the free being anything but free.

    I have little belief nor faith in this country anymore. Not the people and the land itself but in the political leaders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Spectate Swamp (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 6:07pm

    NSA didn't catch the Banksters?

    They stole trillions and the NSA stood silently by. What's up with that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Postulator (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 7:10pm

    It won't be just India. This is very much a "watch this space" issue, and it is highly likely that the currently US-centred industry for online data storage will scatter to all corners.

    Trust is hard-earned, easily lost.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    nasch (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 7:20am

    What good?

    What good does it do to pull out of US based services? They think the NSA is scrupulously avoiding monitoring foreign services?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    also needing consideration is how the USPTO and others have been doing their damnedest to prevent countries like India, where the people cant afford a pot to piss in, from making and selling look-alike medicines, thereby reducing the income of US drug companies that wanted to maintain the exorbitantly high prices that no one could afford. the point there is, yes, many more people would die prematurely because they couldn't buy the medicines, but the US drug companies gained nothing anyway when the drugs weren't bought! that's stupid thinking! 'a' keep the monopoly but lose money by not selling anything and get blamed for causing unnecessary deaths, or 'b' still lose money while saving lives. in typical US stuck up it's own ass fashion, it goes for choice 'a'!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Re: What good?

    it certainly makes it harder for them, as non-US companies are slightly less happy to bend over when the NSA comes a-knockin.

    (though they are probably more likely to do so for their own gov, but at least it's their own gov that's spying on them)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Digger, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    This from India??? The Queen of invasion?

    India's Security council forced their government to pass a law that demands that all communications that happen within their country be copied unencrypted to the government spies, so they can copy, read, do whatever they want with it all.

    Any company operating within India must turn over encryption keys to decrypt the traffic.

    Companies with field offices have resorted to using services like rdesktop and citrix servers residing outside of India so that their network traffic won't be snooped on by India's government in addition to the NSA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Filling, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    Re: What good?

    It pressures them .. If the US based companies start losing money ..problems will arise from those very companies and other web based service companies

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Ninja (profile), Sep 2nd, 2013 @ 4:32am

    Hopefully that won't come back to bite us.

    It's been biting you back for a while now...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Ashwin, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 11:13am

    I found this very difficult to decide

    US based services should run in India

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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