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The Times of India reports that mail services offered to Indian nationals are to be subject to new legislation.

Indian investigating agencies dealing with cyber crime have much to cheer following recent amendments to the IT Act. The amendments passed by Parliament require internet behemoths like Google, Rediff and Microsoft — which provide free email services — to set up Indian webservers. Not just that, they may also have to provide Indian email accounts for Indian nationals. This will have far-reaching ramifications for the millions of users of Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoomail in India. 

Internet users will have email accounts ending with ‘.in’ instead of ‘.com’. While some like Yahoo already provide email services with this suffix, many others offer the global suffix .com.

The change is going to make a huge difference for the investigating agencies dealing with cyber crime, including data theft. Local mail IDs are a big problem across the globe, wherein the investigating agencies struggle to get personal details of account holders due to jurisdictional issues. As the servers of these accounts are generally overseas, mostly in the US, every country has to go through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and send letters rogatory (LRs) to get the details. The process of sending LRs takes more than six months.

I have the deepest sympathy with the families of those injured and killed in acts of terror (I lived and worked in London during the height of the IRA terror campaign and had friends injured in the 7/7 London Tube bombings), however this is naive beyond belief.

Typically of lawyers and legislators there is a fundamental flaw in their thinking in that many Indians are international in their outlook, travel frequently and can and will circumvent this rather silly law. The unintended (or is it intended?) consequence is another set of protectionist rules and regulations that will result in additional costs for ISPs with no actual benefits for anti-terror investigations.

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