The Delhi High Court on 20th March 2014, directed Centre Government to finalise its email usage policy for government servant within 2 weeks.
Court’s decision was based on affidavit filed by the Government in which it was mentioned that National email security policy for government officials has been announced as a part of National Cyber Security Policy.
It also submitted that so far 4.5 lakh out of nearly 50 lakh employees has been provided official email Ids through National Informatics Centre (NIC).
Court ordered government to speed up the process, as security of official information accessed through emails is an issue of national importance.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL filed by former BJP leader K.G. Govindacharya. PIL contains various issues as relating to operation of websites, tax being paid by them, their use by children below 18 years.
It also raised an issue of government officials using Gmail accounts for official communications. It stated that these companies are having their servers outside India and hence transfer of official data through them is violations of Public Records Act 1973.
At the backdrop of former NSA contractor Snowden’s revelations about US’s illegal surveillance, Commerce and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibbal had announced National Cyber Security Policy in December 2013. As per the documents released by Snowden, India was one of the most affected by US’s illegal surveillance. As a part of this cyber security policy, new email security policy was also announced. The new policy has a provision for India based email servers handled by National Informatics Centre. Government is planning to have its own cloud infrastructure to ensure secured information flows. As per Government affidavit, it has framed “Email Policy of Government of India” and “Policy on acceptable use of IT resources of Government of India”. The policies were considered by Committee of Secretaries (CoS), headed by Cabinet Secretary on March 14, 2014 and requires augmentation.