In an attempt to ensure that no personnel gets trapped into any mischief of Pakistan or other external enemies and to curb cyber snooping, the Indian Navy has issued orders to ban the use of social networking platforms of its personnel, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp within naval areas. Along with the apps, the use of smartphones has also been disallowed onboard ships and naval airbases.
The order comes in the light of a recently- exposed racket busted in a joint operation of intelligence agencies and the Andhra Pradesh Police under which around seven sailors were arrested. These men were sharing crucial information related to the navy with Pakistan.
A release from police said the Intelligence wing in concert with Central Intelligence agencies and Naval intelligence launched Operation Dolphin’s Nose and unearthed the espionage racket. The accused naval men including a hawala operator were sending sensitive details related to naval vessels and submarines to Pakistan.
Banning the smartphones and social media apps, the Navy has said that the ban on messaging apps, networking and blogging, content sharing, hosting, e-commerce sites is under promulgation. The restriction has been imposed to prevent navy personnel from becoming a target of honey traps run by spies on social media and compromising on sensitive information pertaining to national security. The Indian Navy had asked all its ranks to keep themselves away from social media and smartphones after the busting of the racket. Phones are completely put on an “unwanted substance list” for personnel working onboard warships, at dockyards and naval bases.
Notably, a question was also raised in the parliament over the use of smartphones especially Chinese mobiles and photography of the military installations by the Bangalore MP Tejasvi Surya to which the Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Naik had assured the house, “As per policy on use of mobile phones in Indian Army, carriage/usage of smart phones including mobile phones having camera/internet facility in office premises is strictly prohibited. Compliance to policy/directives are reiterated at regular intervals for strict adherence, apart from surprise checks and initiation of disciplinary action against any violations.”
After realizing that it cannot fight India through conventional methods, Pakistan has been actively indulging in petty mischief, it is an open secret now that Pakistani intelligence is involved in honey trapping and enticing the Indian personnel through Facebook and other social media sites. India armed forces must ensure that its cadre is well sensitized on this issue, it must impart the detrimental effects of social media on its personnel.