India takes aim at Skype, Google after RIM

A report said that following India’s threat to suspend Blackberry services by the 31st of August, the government’s next targets will be Skype and Google messaging services.

The Financial Times said it has seen the minutes of a meeting in mid July in which officials decided that after targeting Blackberry securely encrypted services, it will attempt to apply rules to instant messaging services offered by both Skype and Google. India is concerned that the secure encryption services incorporated in technology from RIM, from Skype and from Google may allow terrorists to plan and execute attacks free from government surveillance.

The Indian government, like the governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, are concerned that RIM’s servers are located in countries like the UK and Canada and can’t be monitored by security authorities.  RIM is holding out against opening up access in the way the governments have required.

Indian security expert J Prasanna reported in mid 2008 that the Indian government was eager to monitor Blackberry traffic. He said then that Skype to Skype communications all traffic is encrypted on the fly, and RSA is used for key exchange while AES is used for bulk encryption. That, he said then, “makes it almost impossible to break into the communications”.

The motives of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and India for cracking down on the Blackberry are entirely different. The first two countries are terrified that citizens can communicate with each other without being monitored by the religious police. India has fears that outrages such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks will be repeated in the future.

Other countries, including Lebanon and Algeria also want access to Research in Motion codes.

* Update The Wall Street Journal said that RIM will provide a method that will allow the Indian government to monitor messaging and email on Blackberries. Not a good sign for Google and Skype, then.