Yahoo, Gmail and others would be asked to route all emails accessed in India through the country.

NEW DELHI 22-Feb: The Indian government plans to ask email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail, Microsoft and others to route all emails accessed in India, through servers based here, even if the mail account was registered or made in a foreign land. It also plans to establish an India-centric Skype service.

According to documents seen by ET, the Department of IT has been asked to inform email service providers on it, at the earliest. During a high-level meeting held in the office of Union Home Secretary RK Singh, the Department of Information Technology was asked to take up the matter with providers of services such as Gmail, Windows Mobile Active Email, Nokia Intellisync Email, Yahoo mail and others.

According to the action note of the meeting, which took place on December 29, 2011, it was decided that Yahoo, Gmail and others will be asked to route all emails from India through servers based in the country.

The government officials have also decided to set up an ‘India-centric Skype’ to address national security concerns. The ‘Indian Skype’ may be used by government officials to communicate with each other.

During the meeting, director general from CERT-in Gulshan Rai informed that content provider Yahoo automatically locates all email accounts registered in India to the server in India, minutes of the meeting said. The meeting was attended by members of intelligence, and telecom department.

However, Yahoo accounts registered outside India and subsequently accessed from India are routed through servers outside India, it said. Yahoo and Google denied to comment on the issue.

The move comes as email accounts of suspected terrorists have been out of surveillance for Indian security agencies, if they are made outside India. The access becomes even harder if the communication takes place in the form of draft mails, instead of sent mails, as no routing takes place.

According to an agency report, an Indian security agency recently failed to gain access to the email account of a suspected terrorist of Indian Mujahideen during its surveillance period. When an email service provider was approached, the security agency was told that in order to see the mails, a request to the European nation where the server was based, was required.

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