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Indian Navy bans use of Facebook by personnel after 7 sailors were arrested for espionage

Indian Navy sailors and officers could also be banned from using more social networking sites and messaging apps in a bid to curb online snooping.

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New Delhi: The Indian Navy has banned its personnel from using Facebook after seven sailors were arrested for passing on “critical” information to Pakistan after they were entrapped on the social networking site by agents posing as women.

Navy sources told ThePrint that sailors and officers could be banned from using more social networking sites and messaging apps.

Although restrictions were there earlier too on the use of social media sites such as Facebook — in terms of posting information regarding rank, place of posting and pictures of naval assets — now the Navy has imposed a complete ban on using Facebook altogether, meaning no Navy sailor or officer can even have an account on Facebook.

Along with this new order, the Navy has also reiterated its standing instructions of not using smartphones in naval facilities.

“Directives on the usage of social media and smartphones for Indian Navy personnel have existed. The latest orders are in line with ensuring the security of information. The banning of Facebook for officers and sailors of Indian Navy is in line with the same,” a Navy source told ThePrint.

“The recent incident involving the seven sailors 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,” the source added.

Also read: Army sepoy arrested for ‘stealing’ INSAS rifles, Pakistani hand suspected

The arrests

A hawala operator and seven Navy sailors based in Visakhapatnam, Karwar and Mumbai were arrested on 20 December for passing on information to Pakistan, in a case of entrapment on social media by agents posing as women interested in them.

Sources said an ISI module specialising in such entrapment had reached out to the sailors last year. The messages shifted to chats on other social media platforms, including video. Later, they were introduced to a ‘businessman’ who was actually working for the ISI.

The sailors were blackmailed into giving out the positions and movements of warships and submarines on which they used to operate.

What began as blackmail quickly turned into monetary transactions, with the sailors being regularly paid by the ‘businessman’, who was actually a hawala operator acting on behalf of Pakistan.

Also read: Pakistani social media handles claim build-up at LoC, Indian Army says nothing alarming


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