Ministers and bureaucrats may soon be barred from using Gmail, Yahoo or any other email facility that has servers hosted outside India for any official communication. A new draft email policy makes services by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) mandatory for government work.
The policy says service providers other than the NIC – the government’s official email service provider – can be used for personal communication only.
It also restricts officials from forwarding emails from their official ids to their personal ids.
A draft cabinet note on the policy, prepared by the department of electronics and information technology, has been circulated for inter-ministerial consultations. “We will go to the cabinet soon for approval,” said an official.
Sources said though the NIC had provided official email ids to 3.5 million government employees so far, only 700,000 were currently used.
The decision to have an email policy was announced last year to check theft or snooping of critical government data. It was prompted by Edward Snowden’s revelation that the US National Security Agency carried out mass illegal surveillance in many countries, including India.
Government employees were also directed to not use non-NIC email services but the move failed in the absence of a formal policy.
The policy also says that government organizations – including those dealing with national security — that have independent email servers can continue to use them, provided they are hosted in India.