All private browsing of sarkari babus are now going to be monitored and public email services provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) have become the order of the day. In an attempt to boost the services, the Modi government has barred the use of Gmail, Yahoo and other such private mailing services.

While there is no official news on the reason behind the ban, this step comes in the wake of many document leaks within crucial ministries like oil and petroleum. Earlier this year, the Maharashtra government started to develop its own messaging app for security reasons. Also, in 2012, Yahoo and Gmail were asked to route all emails accessed in India through the country even if the mail account is registered outside the country.

Parliament of India. AFPParliament of India. AFP

Parliament of India. Image from AFP.

The NIC notification was issued on 18 February. Apart from the ban on the mail services, there will also be monitoring of online activities of all bureaucrats on official computers. This policy is applicable to all employees of central government and employees of those state or union territories governments that use e-mail services provided by the central government.

The NIC has also been given the power to block content that goes against the provisions of the IT Act, 2000, or any content that may be a threat to the security of the systems.

Additionally, the NIC can also block content that “may adversely affect the productivity of the users.” All users will be asked to exercise caution while browsing websites and steer clear from offensive, obscene, threatening or harassing material.

Employees will also have to update their mobile numbers so they can be reached at all times. The tight grip watch doesn’t end here: auto save of passwords will be prohibited for security reasons. Forwarding government mails to personal mailboxes will also not be allowed.

The NIC also made a list of “inappropriate” things that cannot be circulated via official mail. The list includes:  the creation and exchange of harassing, obscene or threatening emails; transmission of emails involving language derogatory to religion, caste or ethnicity; unauthorized exchange of confidential information; distribution of anonymous emails from another officer’s ID; masking of identity of the sender of email and willful transmission of an email containing a computer virus.

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Big brother is watching: No Gmail, Yahoo or private browsing for Babus