To protect data of Indian Internet users, the National Security Council (NSC) has proposed a three-pronged action plan, including asking all email providers to set up local servers, creating an Indian email service and making it mandatory for Government officials to use the email provided by the National Informatics Centre.

The NSC has floated a paper, which was discussed on January 22. This comes after recent media reports on how US security agencies were snooping user data generated by platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Data to remain in India

The NSC wants all data related to communication between two users in India to remain within the country.

“All email service providers may be mandated to host servers for their India operations in India. All data generated from within India should be hosted in these India-based servers and this would make them subject to Indian laws,” said an internal NSC note.

The National Security Advisor has asked the Department of Telecom to look at the possibility of making it mandatory for all telecom and Internet companies to route local data through the National Internet Exchange of India.

For example, an e-mail sent from Delhi to Mumbai may now be routed through servers in the US for which the ISPs need to buy international bandwidth. If all ISPs connect to the National Internet Exchange, this data can be kept within the country.

However, foreign email service providers such as Google are not required to connect to exchange or keep data within India as they are governed by the laws of their respective home countries.

Some of these service providers have a mirror server in India but data are available in the primary servers located in a foreign country.

General principle

“As a general principle, mirroring of data hosted in these servers to main servers abroad should not be permitted,” the National Security Council note said.

“Indian entities and India registered content providers should host content within India. Foreign companies should similarly host content belonging to Indian users within India,” it said.

Email service

In addition to this, the NSC paper said that the Government must facilitate the establishment of an Indian email service that would compete in terms of quality and technical sophistication with foreign players.

The objective is to wean users from companies that do not conform to the requirements of India’s security.

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