Smartphones are being seen as new evil for the otherwise disciplined Armed Forces. In the wake of several complaint videos from Jawans going viral on social media, the India Army called for a review and strict implementation of the guidelines regarding the use of smartphones and other information sharing devices by Army officers.
However, in a recently conducted surprise check at Army Head Quarters, more than 80 Officers of Indian Army were caught for unauthorized possession of smartphones. Several devices were confiscated from various ranks including Brigadier and Colonel rank officers during this exercise ordered by none other than Gen Bipin Rawat when he was Vice Chief of Army Staff.
Sources told News18 that surprise checks were conducted at various office premises under Army Head Quarters, including South Block, Kashmir House, L & M Block, Sena Bhawan and R K Puram. Several flying squad teams were deployed for this surprise inspection aimed to check the military information leak and misuse of smartphones.
According to sources, the data is being analysed. Also the concerned officers have been warned. The operation was ordered by Gen.Rawat in early December, only a week before his appointment as Army Chief was announced. Source privy to this operation confirms that only officers were profiled for the check.
It may be noted that under Army HQ guidelines, only senior officers ranks as Major Generals and above are authorized to possess and use smartphones within the Army HQ and affiliated institutions.
However, ‘willfully ignoring’ and defying all the restrictions junior officers carry smartphones and laptops to their offices. Sources say that in the last few years this lax attitude has led to various cases of secret information pilferage. According to sources privy to this exercise, only officers were profiled to check the misuse of smartphones in the case.
It is being learnt that in coming days, new directives for the strict adherence to smartphone usage could be issued.
Responding to controversy over a video posted by Army Jawan complaining against Sahayak system in Army, Generel Rawat said that Social Media is a two sided weapon. During his Army Day address, he added, Indian Army have the capacity to tackle cyber attacks, yet, we have to be careful against the enemy elements on social media, and also ask our families to be alert about it.
It may be recalled that a few months ago, News18 Exposè had revealed how Pak ISI was snooping over Army and Paramilitary Officers through a malicious android App, SmeshApp. A detailed news investigation revealed that Officers were honey-trapped through social media and persuaded to install the malicious app.
SmeshApp was designed to steal vital information including contacts, messages, pictures and videos stored on the smartphones of these officers. Surprisingly, the app also had a feature to enable camera and audio/video recorders of the devices without its user being aware of it. All the data collected through this app was stored on a German server and was being accessed in Karachi, Pakistan.