Google and Skype face India woes

India yesterday launched a clampdown on major internet communications firms, including Google and Skype, and began accessing some BlackBerry traffic in a campaign driven by security fears.

Home secretary GK Pillai said notices were being sent to Google and Skype asking them to set up servers in India and allow access to web data that officials fear could be misused by militants.

Several other countries, most of them in the Middle East, have raised concerns that the BlackBerry might be used to aid terrorism or peddle pornography.

But India could be the first to act against firms such as BlackBerry maker RIM, setting a
precedent that could hurt companies with a reputation built on system security.

Such moves could also impact the shape of India’s mobile phone market, the world’s fastest-growing, and possibly hand gains to Apple and Nokia, BlackBerry’s two biggest smartphone rivals in India.

Pillai’s comments come after a long standoff between India and BlackBerry over a workable way for the government to monitor its data. India has said it wants the means to fully track and read BlackBerry communications.

RIM won a reprieve this week after the government said the smartphone company had offered some solutions to access data which it was studying.