49 thoughts on “In India, WebMail Has To Come From Local Servers”

  1. First, they went after RIM saying they could not offer their service in India via Tata Teleservices unless the servers were in India. Nevermind that Vodafone and Airtel had been offering RIM services for years.

    Just more stupidity from Indian government officials.

  2. Completely irrational and illogical move from this government…. First basic thing is can they even guarantee uninterrupted power? I work with a major investment banks unit and few times a day we have power cut and everything runs on our own generator…. Running a datacenter in india probably would be more expensive than anywhere because one has to run generator for few hours to keep power…(Diesel is not subsidized if one is procuring for power generation )

    Complete stupidity from Indian Government officials…..

  3. Looks like our so called “IT Law Makers” haven’t got past the stone age. Those were the days when somebody got sick and the person was secluded/isolated for fear of spread of the disease.

    Is there an opportunity that lies with the new age entrepreneurs to club together and present a better option to the law makers of this country ?

  4. The Government seems to think locking down the Internet is a solution to preventing its misuse. Would they also neuter all Indians because humans produce humans, some of whom become criminals. What better than to nip the problem right where it begins… isn’t it?

  5. Illogical, nonsense and useless are three words which come to mind. This causes hassles to service providers, but absolutely no benefit to the government, people or the country. What prevents a criminal or terrorist from registering an email address that doesn’t end with .in and using it in India? There are a thousand ways to by-pass location detection methods. When that happens, are they going to ban anyone without a .in email address from accessing free email accounts in India?

  6. I only have one question…which Indian webmail company greased the proper wheels for this legislation to go through?

  7. Another one from our stone age babus. Well what else do we expect from people who spent their entire time studying for the civil services and wagging their tails for the political masters post getting in. SuperStupidSuckers

  8. Om,
    AFAIK Yahoo! has been using country specific domain names for quite sometime,but it can be bypassed by giving the US as location and a random US Zip code.
    So, what is the whole point of this exercise?
    Assuming IP is detected and ‘location’ can not be changed while an ID is created,what if the terrorists(who attack India) have their ids created by someone sitting in the US;that means that mail server is NOT in India.

    I do not see the govt. directive as a solution to the menace.Or I am missing something.


  9. It’s not irrational if they want to be able to control and monitor communications. It may be nefarious, anti-privacy, etc. But not irrational.

  10. I do not know how this is going to help the government. I have the same questions raised by Nikhil. It will inflict more suffering for Indian users because servers in India will face more downtime and reliability issues. This shows that Congress doesn’t have one single person who understands IT. Not long ago they banned blogspot.com domain name because somebody posted some nonsense on his personal blog on blogspot. Absurd. I am hearing that BJP is more IT savvy than congress government. Advani claims to be so. They have installed servers in all their regional offices. They are also leading the way with big budgets for banner ads on premium sites.

    These kind of stupidity is common in India. Last week I entered a railway station through a main entrance which was heavily guarded with metal detectors and luggage scanners. Then when I walked to a next platform I saw people freely moving in and out through a unguarded side entrance. Objective here is to show some stupid officer or stupid politician that some action is being taken. Results does not matter.

    Do not be surprised if some idiot in this government comes with idea like all ISP’s should block websites which are not hosted in India. They may even ask wemasters to license the web domains with a separate redtape entrenched department for this. As long as these babus rule the country it will never become a “developed” country.

    1. Senthil,

      Sorry to go off topic, but yes the whole security issue in India is window dressing!

      I took a look at the BJP and Congress Manifesto’s and one of biggest issues for both parties is how to feed people. The solution:

      BJP – Allow each family up to 35 kg of rice/wheat at Rs 2/kg
      Congress – Allow each family up to 25 kg of rice/wheat at Rs 3/kg

      Yes, food is their biggest selling issue when going to the voters. Poverty is a hugh issue and sadly our technology issues really don’t matter when put to elections.

    1. I agree.

      Power cuts even today (Upto 3-4 hrs in cities … imagine in towns/villages) and net speeds still < 1MBps (Shared & Overloaded) ….really sucks

  11. I wonder why google websites like gmail , google serach , google pages have suddenly become so SLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW in india , so much some of friends have switched yahoo atleast for searches which is very fast……….are google Indian data centres bandwidth starved ………..

  12. I really don’t know how this can be implemented well. Consider as someone just mentioned – IP address used to determine your location – its possible to change it (consider VPN, etc)

    Maybe an effective solution will emerge .. lets wait and watch.

  13. logically speaking – having servers hosted in India can actually speed things up because your latency will come down from 350-400 ms to about 100 odd ms. which (theoretically) should be faster.

    What is the real rational behind this – is the question.

  14. logically speaking – having servers hosted in India can actually speed things up because your latency will come down from 350-400 ms to about 100 odd ms. which (theoretically) should be faster.

    What is the real rational behind this – is the question.

  15. Good luck catching ’em terrorists with that move. Unless they can force users to use only certain domains and service providers to do email in India, this would have zero effect.

  16. I guess they just have this idea that as long as they have everything IN their country and WITHIN their means its naturally safer and better, and everything else doesn’t matter, probably also because they don’t completely understand how it really works. But then again, even if it IS “more” within their means to monitor and control, somehow it seems like they usually end up not really doing it.

    So it seems like similar to the railway station and its metal detectors Senthil Nathan mentioned, its probably just a show that they’re doing something to be tight with security and all but in actual fact its redundant actions.

  17. Another illogical and foolish move by people who do not understand anything about the internet. The draft of the law was probably typed on a 20 year old typewriter and corrections made by applying white ink. Morons is the word that comes to mind when we hear these things.

  18. Is this protectionism in disguise ? It would be typical government behavior to use National Security concerns to create jobs, employment and skills in the local economy by forcing global companies to invest locally.

    For example, the American Actor Guild ensures that theatre shows must use American actors even when running in Australia, UK or wherever. This occurs even when the show is adapted for the local market.

    China’s government continues to demand majority ownership by Chinese citizens in almost every company in the country.

    Why is this any different from that ? And why is this unacceptable ? Data centres can be anywhere, why not India ?

    1. In case you don’t know, or didn’t care to know, China is a communist state, while India is not. It is a liberal democracy, or atleast makes an attempt at that, never mind the results. What China can do is irrelevant to what can and should be done in India.

  19. illogical Move! Or may be a logical move to make these big giants Google, Yahoo, MSN to invest in development of world standards Data centres in India.

  20. Good in a way.. I will be able to access my gmail even if some under-sea cable snaps! Anti-privacy is another issue altogether, apart from that it’s just good for Indian net users

  21. Good in a way.. I will be able to access my gmail even if some under-sea cable snaps! Anti-privacy is another issue altogether, apart from that it’s just good for Indian net users

  22. I am a in software development industry for last 10 years and I don’t care about technology progress untill India can feed all Indians first.

    1. Well, technology progress is one of many ways to feed more Indians. See for example technology is feeding me and many others here. I am not sure I would have got my first job easily if IT industry is non-existent in India. So IMHO we should care about all sort of progress including technology progress if we are to feed more Indians and lift them out of poverty.

    1. Absurd! Are you able to control mobile SIM cards this way? Common person suffers. Terrorists still strike. And worst Media shows images of TOP COPS killed and their preparations to attack. Policing new technology is not the way. Best they should have asked a pool of best tech minds to build better monitoring services.

      From, Indian babus:) and politicians, God save my India.

  23. Hi Om,

    I had suggested something different on this issue in my earlier blog. The crux of the idea is to register email ids against an e-visa or e-passport to be issued by a third party vendor only after getting a valid photo ID from the person registering. This will make the process lengthy but will surely secure the email.

  24. yeah the US Govt also claims to be able to spy up on any communication to/from non-us citizens if it passes thru servers in the US.
    Now India want to be able to do the same.

  25. yeah the US Govt also claims to be able to spy up on any communication to/from non-us citizens if it passes thru servers in the US.
    Now India want to be able to do the same.
    Ooops, should have mentioned great post! Waiting for your next one!

  26. I don’t see why people are jumping to shoot down this proposal so quickly. Done properly, It actually might be a good “stimulus” plan to kickstart some high end datacenter building/hosting business in India. As part of this plan, the government should provide sops (like guaranteed power or cheap land near the B-cities) to companies building “large” (pick your metric) datacenters. If businesses see this as a competitive advantage they will accept, else they will find ways to circumvent the regulation.

  27. Think from the govt.’s point of view. Having the servers in India might help them legally to subpoena the companies when needed for email content, etc. Its a path-of-least-resistance solution from the govt. I dont think they were looking at this as a technical solution. Mainly as a legal help. Something like “occupation is half ownership”.

  28. This is a start in wrong direction. In few years government will amend the law with more restrictions that may do more damage to startups. What they are doing for email companies today, tomorrow they will impose the same hard and fast rules to other web startups like social networks, twitter etc. Startups will inadvertently step on a legal landmine. The problem is it will become prohibitively expensive and legally challenging for startups like ours. For example our company server is located in US because there we can get very cheap VPS servers. We may even choose to use services like Amazon EC3 or Google App platform. Some email services and instant messaging services that we run for internal use share the same server space. We get 20% of traffic from India and significant traffic from countries other than US. With our present revenue it is not feasible to run separate dedicated servers for India and other countries where we get significant traffic. There is no comparable service provider in India with technical expertise or modern infrastructure. Bandwidth is so expensive here in India that we couldn’t even think about hosting a server within our premises. Small startups must always be cost conscious to stay afloat.

    Today a developer or group of developers can dream and challenge biggies like Yahoo, Google, facebook based on their technical expertise alone. They don’t have to worry too much about legal hassles. Raising the legal barrier will give an upper hand for companies with legal muscle thereby raising the entry barrier for startups. This will crush the hopes of aspiring startups leaving the field open to just a handful of companies like Reliance, TV18, IndiaTimes, Naukri, BharatMatrimony etc. I do not have to tell that Indian companies and their agents are adept at using legal muscle and political clout to use unfair means to keep competition at bay.

    Government must be careful while drafting laws if they want to replicate a silicon valley or Israel in India by fuelling and nurturing the aspirations of young tech entrepreneurs in India. With more and more laws like this they will discourage startups. Specifically this law is a foundation stone for highly regulated Internet.

    Objective of this law is unquestionable. I am concerned about security of India because I live here. What I want is an open debate involving all stakeholders before legislating laws like this. They should thoroughly evaluate all technology choices. I am sure there exists an alternate technology solution which take care of interest of all stake holders.

    Sorry for this lengthy post. Moderator I am posting comment for second or third time. Please don’t think I am spamming your blog.

  29. This is another case of the government trying to use a poor tactics with no strategy. For all this control, why would the so called terrorists use email any more? They have many more ways. Ultimately they win because their terror doctrines are working and helping create a case for dissatisfaction between the people and government.

  30. Om,

    Thankfully the idea is so harebrained even by indian bureaucratic standards, that its not happening. Such trial balloons are floated very often in TOI publications to test the public opinion than anything else.

    Regarding this helping Indian Datacenter business I have my doubts that regulatory promote would promote an efficient marketplace for datacenters.

    PS: And your India stories though wildly popular sadly lack the depth and usually delayed.
    Hint: You should hire some techblogger from India 🙂

  31. The Indian government is simply trying to mandate a privately-funded development of infrastructure. Not such a bad idea if the government doesn’t screw it up by being too hands-on with the implementation of it. However, history suggests that this may be exactly the problem when it comes to getting the plan done.

  32. Announcements such as these are entirely irrelevant. As more and more web-smart citizens take control of their own security and connectivity, they will use paid (and soon, free) services to allow full, transparent bypass of ham-handed efforts such as this.

    In this way, many of the customers of our VPN company (cryptocloud.net) who do not live in the UK are able to access BBC content that is (parochially) limited only to “UK addresses” – we allow folks to choose whatever country IP they want to present to the world, while online.

    At first, folks often think it’s either impossible, illegal, or really complex – when they see how easy it is to decide where YOU want to operate, what public IP address and country location YOU want to present to the world, and what local snoop agencies YOU want to listen into your internet activities (or not), these efforts to “lock in” citizens of specific geographic areas can be seen for what they truly are: the Maginot lines of the 21st century. Grand, centralized, hopeless dreams of governmental institutions that have been left behind by technological innovation.

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