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No imp docus on WhatsApp, no use of smartphones in meetings on classified issues: Centre’s new guidelines

New Delhi, Jan 21, 2022 – Amid frequent violations of national communication guidelines and government directions to prevent leaks of classified information, the Centre has issued a revised communication advisory formulated by the Intelligence agencies after reviewing the gaps in the present system.

According to the sources, the new communication guidelines have asked all the government officials not to use WhatsApp, Telegram, etc., to share confidential information as the servers of these Apps are controlled by the private companies abroad and that information can be misused by some anti-India forces. They also said that during the ‘Work From Home'( WFH), the officials should use only e- office applications for communication.

The revised guidelines also asked the officials to stop sharing secret information or documents via home setup during WFH, and the home systems must be connected with the office network via Virtual Private Network of National Informatics Centre (NIC) only.

All ministries have been asked to take ‘urgent steps’ to prevent such violations and to follow the communication security policies and guidelines strictly while dealing with confidential or restricted communications.

“Any classified or secret documents should not be stored in officials mobile sets and that should not be shared with any officials by mobile as the new communication apps’ servers are owned by the private ownership and can create a big risk for national security and other related issues,” a senior official aware of this development said on condition of anonymity.

The new communication norms, circulated to all Union Ministries and Departments and the top officials have been asked not to use smart watches or smart phones during the meeting while discussing the classified issues or national security related issues.A They have also been advised not to use various office assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomePod, etc.

The new guidelines have also detailed the norms for virtual meetings, which has become a new norm in the Covid-19 period since the last two years. This directs officials not to hold virtual meetings on private apps like Google Meet or Zoom application rather they have been advised to use video conference solutions set up by the Department of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), National Informatics Centre (NIC) along with mandatory use passwords to access the chat room and waiting room facilities.  (Agency)

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