Decision comes after 7 personnel held for espionage
Close on the heels of an espionage racket busted within its ranks and the arrest of seven sailors, the Indian Navy has banned the use of smartphones and Facebook by its personnel within naval establishments and on warships. The arrested sailors were honey-trapped and allegedly blackmailed through social media to pass on sensitive information.
“Directive on use of smart phones and social media for naval personnel were always there. The new instructions on smartphones are that these cannot be used within naval establishments and naval platforms. Social media, use of Facebook, is banned for all naval personnel,” Navy sources said here on Monday. For messaging apps, instructions are expected to be issued shortly, they added.
The latest orders are in line with ensuring the security of information, officials said stating the recent incident involving the seven sailors in Visakhapatnam has also been taken into consideration while arriving at this decision. “We do understand that this may come at the cost of some discomfort, however, the decision is in the larger national interest, they added.
The latest order comes days after the Andhra Pradesh Police along with the Navy intelligence unit and Central intelligence agencies arrested seven sailors, besides a hawala operator. The sailors were arrested from Visakhapatnam, Mumbai and Karwar naval establishments. They reportedly passed on unauthorised information about movement of warships and other operational details through social media to a Pakistan handler.
While Visakhapatnam has the Eastern Naval command headquarters besides the sensitive submarine building centre where the nuclear submarines Arihant are under construction, the Western Naval command is based in Mumbai. The lone aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya’s base is in Karwar, Karnataka.
The spy racket was busted on December 19 by the Andhra Pradesh Intelligence Department in a joint operation with the Navy code named “Dolphin’s Nose.” The police claimed the sailors, recruited in 2017, passed information like locations of naval ships and submarines after they fell into a honey-trap through social media in 2018.
Incidentally, a similar case involving at least two soldiers leaking information through social media came to light two months back in Rajasthan despite the armed forces regularly cautioning its personnel to be careful on social media.
The Army recently warned its personnel against 150 fake social media profiles, including of phoney spiritual gurus and babas, being used by Pakistan’s Intelligence officers to honey-trap officials for extracting sensitive military information.
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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