India to ask US assistance to decrypt WhatsApp, Skype chats

India will reportedly seek help from the US to decrypt chat conversations on various platforms like Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat and BlackBerry Messenger.


India will reportedly seek help from the US to decrypt chat conversations on various platforms like Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat and BlackBerry Messenger. Even while it will be asking for help, India has expressed its displeasure over US service providers refusing to cooperate when it comes to investigating cyber crime.

The news of the request comes as per an agenda note that has been circulated by the Union Home Ministry ahead of the Indo-US Police Chiefs conference that is slated to be held on December 4 and 5, The Economic Times has reported. India reportedly plans to tell the US that these chat services, like WhatsApp, Skype and more, pose a challenge to security agencies to intercept and decipher communications. It will ask US to share its technology and know-how about how it manages to do the same even when services do not share decryption keys.

India to ask US assistance to decrypt WhatsApp, Skype chats

India seeks US help to decrypt messages

 

The agenda note reads, “The availability of their web servers in India is required for legal interception of communications in real time for timely action by security and intelligence agencies. The communication over these services is encrypted and the encryption-decryption technologies available with the service providers will be required by security agencies even if the facility for lawful interception of these communications is extended to security agencies in India. The technology in use by US agencies may be an area of co-operation.”

Indian authorities fear – and with good reason – that terrorists and anti-social elements could well be using these chatting services in order to chalk up their plans and hatch conspiracies. While the country has been pressing chat services to help it out by sharing decryption keys with them but has seen little success.

The authorities will also raise the issue of mail and social networking services like Hotmail, Google, Facebook and Twitter not lending a hand to help Indian investigators in cases of cyber crime. The services are all based in the US and authorities allege have “never even in a single case” provided email or profile contents requested by authorities and have also refused to remove hate speech from social networks.

"In many instances, hate speeches on various sites have created communal violence within India. Even in such important matters, service providers have refused to remove contents from their servers blocking the same from public viewing citing the legal provisions of the country where their servers are based," the agenda note reads.

India’s Intelligence Bureau Chief, Asif Ibrahim, reportedly called for the establishment of an Indo-American Alert Watch and Warn network. This was in order to facilitate faster cooperation between both law enforcement agencies when it comes to cyber crime investigation. It’s an alarming figure, but currently service providers take 15 to 80 days to respond to Indian requests. "In terms of cyber crime investigations, this is akin to a lifetime. Further, there is no guarantee that the required information will be provided at all," the note says.

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