India will rethink its hardline proposals to clampdown on encryption.
Minister of Communications and Information Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on Tuesday that a draft law to regulate cryptography would be withdrawn and rewritten. The climbdown comes amid public outcry and widespread criticism of the would-be-disastrous rules.
"Some of the expressions used in the draft are giving rise to uncalled-for misgivings," said Prasad.
"I have noted some of the concerns."
Of particular concern was the provision requiring all citizens to store encrypted messages and data in a plaintext form readable by the government for a period of 90 days. The draft law would have also required foreign companies who offer services in India to give the government access to their encryption suites and any supporting documentation.
Along with user privacy concerns, critics charged that the rules would in fact pose a larger security risk on their own, as the plain-text exchanges sought by the government would be vulnerable to hackers as well.
It was not the strict regulations on business, it seems, but rather worries about social media that prompted New Delhi to pull the proposed law.
The move may also have some political motivation, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to embark on a trip to Silicon Valley later this week to meet industry executives.
This is not the first time India's government has asked for sweeping access to encryption keys. A long-running feud between the government and Blackberry centered on whether authorities would be able to decrypt and monitor messages sent through mobile devices. ®