New Delhi, Dec 14 The Narendra Modi government may have been encouraging its officials to use social media in disseminating information about its policies and programmes, but it also wants them to exercise caution in view of the heightened threat of cyber snooping.
In its Dec 5 order, the home ministry instructed its officials to use social media, but with restraint. They were asked to not to use for official purposes email service providers which have their servers located outside India.
A circular, the copy of which is in possession of IANS, has asked the officials to make sure that "confidential information" is not divulged while using the social media.
The ministry also advised the officials that they "must clearly identify" themselves while posting on the social media.
"Social media is increasingly being used in government for public engagements for disseminating information, policy making, recruitment, generating awareness, education, etc. Most of the social media platforms are based outside India and are not governed by Indian laws," says the circular.
"It is very important to ensure... laws are complied with and adequate provisions for security are in place in view of current threat scenario in cyber space," it adds.
"They must clearly identify themselves. Confidential information must not be divulged. Their views should not be seen to represent 'official view' unless authorised to do so," said the circular.
It also said: "For any official work involving transmission of public records, they must use an e-mail identity connected to a server, located in India, and for this purpose they may preferably take service of National Informatics Centre (NIC)."
It adds the directive must be brought to the notice of all ministry officials concerned and its implementation must be ensured. In the past few years, the government departments have adopted the process of sharing the information through social media.
Since Modi came to power, he has given the extra push to the use of social media.
Most of his ministers also have taken to micro-blogging site Twitter.
The ministers and BJP leaders opened their personal accounts on the social websites like Facebook, and they post photo and share their thoughts on it.
It is learnt that once the information is posted to a social networking site, it is no longer private. Even when using high security settings, friends or websites may inadvertently leak the information for nefarious purposes, sources told IANS.
(Alok Singh can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)
Indo-Asian News Service