Andhra Pradesh

Navy personnel ‘upset’ with ban on smartphones and FB

File photo of Indian Navy’s frontline ASW corvette, INS Kadmatt.

File photo of Indian Navy’s frontline ASW corvette, INS Kadmatt.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Decision comes in the wake of arrest of seven Navymen for ‘leaking’ info to Pakistan

A directive from the Navy banning the usage of Facebook and smartphones on naval premises has reportedly not gone down well with Navy personnel, with some terming it a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ that would cause resentment.

The decision to ban Navy personnel from using Facebook and smartphones comes in the wake of the arrest of seven Navy personnel from the Eastern and Western Naval Commands, and a Mumbai-based hawala operator, in a joint operation by the Andhra Pradesh Police, Naval Intelligence and Central intelligence agences.

The seven personnel reportedly fell for a honey-trap laid through Facebook by Pakistani agents to extract vital information.

Questions abound

Officers requesting anonymity questioned the rationale behind the decision. “Why ban only Facebook? There are several other social media websites and apps such as Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp. Moreover, in today’s tech-savvy world, nothing can be banned or blocked, as there is always a way out by opening fictitious accounts or operating the accounts through a third person,” they said.

“As per a general directive, no person from the Armed Forces or establishments under the Ministry of Home Affairs or some strategic ministries are supposed to upload their personal and professional details or pictures in uniform. We just mention that we are employed by the Ministry of Defence or Ministry of Home Affairs. But fake accounts can be opened,” an officer said.

‘No clarity’

According to them, there is no clarity on any directive or policy as a result of which there are several loopholes.

The directive reportedly issued by the Navy states that smartphones would not be allowed inside naval premises.

“Does it also mean that even in residential premises located inside naval premises, smartphones won’t be allowed?” questioned another officer.

In Eastern Naval Command (ENC), there are many naval residential quarters located inside naval establishments such as INS Satavahana, INS Kalinga and INS Eksila. “Are smartphones banned here also?” is the question on many minds.

As per Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), smartphones or any communication devices, except for official radio sets, are prohibited inside vital assets or installations.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 4:01:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/navy-personnel-upset-with-ban-on-smartphones-and-fb/article30473608.ece

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