The Navy has banned the use of smartphones and Facebook by its personnel within naval establishments and platforms.
“A directive on the usage of smartphones and social media for naval personnel had been there. The new instructions on smartphones is that they cannot be used within the naval establishments and platforms. Use of social media such as Facebook is banned for all naval personnel,” a Navy source said on Monday, adding that for messaging apps, instructions were expected shortly.
All the three Services share directives on the use of smartphones and social media that are revised from time to time. With the latest measure, the Navy has imposed a blanket ban on use of smartphones on its premises either onshore or at sea.
“If the system needs cleansing and some harsh corrective measures need to be instituted, the silent service, Indian Navy, will never shy away from doing so, rather than regretting at a later date,” Capt. (retd) D.K. Sharma, former Navy spokesperson said on Twitter.
The Navy source said, “The latest orders are in line with ensuring the security of information.” The recent incident involving seven sailors, who were arrested in Visakhapatnam on charges of espionage, had been taken into consideration while arriving at this decision.
Early this month, in a joint operation with Naval Intelligence and Central intelligence agencies, the Andhra Pradesh police arrested seven naval personnel on charges of espionage and passing sensitive information to a Pakistani handler after being honey-trapped over social media. As the investigation progressed, on Monday the Counter Intelligence Cell of the Andhra Pradesh police arrested four more Navy sailors, three from the Mumbai Naval Base and one from the Karwar Naval Base.
“We do understand that this may come at the cost of some discomfort. However, the decision is in the larger national interest,” the source noted.