The government is cracking down on officials, limiting their internet access, which now excludes private/ third party mail like Yahoo and Gmail from access in offices. They are directed to use only National Informatics Centre (NIC) prescribed email services for communication.
This is a part of the twin notifications, ‘E-mail Policy of Government of India’ and ‘Policy on use of Information Technology resources of Government of India’, issued by the Modi government on February 18.
The government can now block content which it deems counterproductive to working efficiency of bureaucrats, monitor their online activities and delete history and past emails, upon intimation to the user. This covers all central government employees, employees of those state governments/UTs which use email services of the Centre and those states that choose to adopt this in future.
In addition, to prevent slacking off at jobs, the move comes with government concerns over foreign servers of Gmail and Yahoo and instances of US snooping revealed by Snowden recently, which can become some serious liabilities for the Government.
The notification reads:
The e-mail services provided by other service providers shall not be used for any official communication. Misuse of these resources can result in unwanted risk and liabilities for the government. NIC may block content which, in the opinion of the organisation concerned, is inappropriate, or may adversely affect the productivity of the users.
NIC has the power to “access, review, copy or delete” any kind of electronic communication such as files, e-mails and internet history, for “security-related reasons“. Access to social sites will now have the highest security filter, and although it is a given, users can’t post “offensive, threatening, defamatory, bullying, racist, hateful, harassing, obscene or sexist” material on Twitter or Facebook and not make any comment or post any such material that would “cause damage to the organization’s reputation,” adding:
All organizations, except those exempted under clause 14 of this policy, should migrate their e-mail services to the centralized deployment of the NIC for security reasons and uniform policy enforcement.
By the end of current budgetary, five million officials will have migrated over to core service of NIC. A budget of Rs 100 crore has been allocated for the project. Edward Snowden seems to have made a pretty global impact after all.
This article is also available in Hindi