The government will be monitoring online activities of bureaucrats on official computers, block content which it feels is adversely affecting the productivity of the babus and also have a right to delete e-mails or internet history on such computers after intimating the user.
The measures are a part of twin notifications issued by the Narendra Modi government on February 18 by which the use of private e-mail networks like Gmail and Yahoo has now also been officially banned for all government use.
Notifying an ‘E-mail Policy of Government of India’ and ‘Policy on use of Information Technology resources of Government of India’, the Modi government has now stipulated that only the e-mail services provided by NIC shall be used for official communication.
These notified policies will cover 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. The step was in the offing for long given the government’s concern over foreign servers of Gmail and Yahoo and instances of US snooping.
The notified policies stipulate measures to ensure secure and proper access to and usage of government’s IT resources and “prevent their misuse” by users (officials).
“Misuse of these resources can result in unwanted risk and liabilities for the government,” the policy says. The measures hence stipulated are: “NIC may block content which, in the opinion of the organization concerned, is inappropriate, or may adversely affect the productivity of the users.”
Other measures spelt out in the notification are that NIC may monitor online activities on the government network, subject to SOPs as the organization may lay down, and the power with NIC to “access, review, copy or delete” any kind of electronic communication such as files, e-mails and internet history, for “security-related reasons” under due intimation.
The policy has also stipulated the terms of access to social media sites from government networks, saying users will always use “high security settings” on such sites, not 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.”
The policy has specified that besides NIC, there would not be any other e-mail service under Government of India and says auto save of password or its sharing in the government e-mail service is not permitted.
“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,”. An exception has been made for organizations dealing with national security who have their independent mail servers.
“They can continue to operate the same provided the e-mail servers are hosted in India. However, in interest of uniform policy enforcement and security, it is recommended that these organizations should consider migrating to the core service of NIC,” the notified policy says.