Announcing the government stand, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The government has not decided to get servers of popular social networking sites, like hike, Facebook, Twitter etc established within the country,” in a written reply to a member in the Lok Sabha.
Admitting that security and intelligence agencies face immense difficulty to trace encrypted communications on these platforms, which can be used by terrorist outfits for plots and execution of their activities.
“These services may also used by anti-national and criminal elements, which pose a security threat,” the Minister said and added that the government has mandated all the telecom and Internet service providers to provide access to the lawful scrutiny of these services.
But in some cases, the Minister said, security agencies were unable to decrypt the communication. Citing several factors, these security enforcement agencies fail to get encrypted communication in readable format such as technical, international relationship, legal and regulatory policy, commercial and security requirements, explained the minister.
Almost all the social networking websites and chat services such as WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Skype, Yahoo, Gmail let users share and exchange information in all formats including audio, video, image, email, and data files easily, freely and in an encrypted format that has been posing a challenge to intelligence and security agencies.
However, the minister said there is no move to seek Facebook and Twitter to re-locate their servers to India to serve the local users. If this is done, it would help local security officials to snoop on communication exchange between persons or groups without much resistence.