Plan to ban social media websites in govt offices

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication was informed on Wednesday that the use of social media websites in government offices could be banned to check alleged leak of official data.

But chairman of the committee Ali Khan Jadoon of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf sought details of the government plan after members said that the move could be a ploy to curb freedom of speech.

The officials of the National Information Technology Board (NITB) briefed the committee on the plan and its recommendation to ban the use of Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube in government offices. The committee was informed that the NITB has been tasked to stop data leaks from government offices.

Step suggested for checking leak of official data.

The NITB was developing a new local social media networking platform similar to that of WhatsApp, which would be introduced in government offices, and replace the intra-government communication being done through WhatsApp by the officers.

The committee was informed that the implementation of a local platform would include a complete ban on the use of social media by the government servants during working hours. The NITB officials suggested that another proposal on the cards was to ban use of social media during office timings, but the officials would also be barred from bringing storage devices USBs.

However, members of the committee wondered how physical checking of each employee coming and going out of the office could be done.

The NITB officials said that all such measures would be implemented along with the e-government programme that is expected to be in place in all federal government offices by June next year. The committee’s members raised the issue of rampant spread of fake news, mainly over social media, and the NITB officials said that the government was developing standard operating procedures in cooperation with the management of global social media platforms.

Meanwhile, the committee was told that 29 ministries have been upgraded to different levels of e-government but no work has commenced at 13 ministries or divisions. Incidentally, the officials of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IT Board said that provincial departments were resisting the implementation of e-government programme and there is no law to cover the official data from thefts and leakages, therefore relevant laws were needed before implementing e-government plan.

MNAs Kanwal Shauzab, Maiza Hameed, Ali Gohar Khan and Zain Qureshi and officials of the Ministry for Information Technology and Telecommunication attended the meeting.

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