Indian Army Directs Personnel to Exit WhatsApp Groups Over Security Concerns

Officers have been told to leave all social media groups that have non-serving members.

New Delhi: The Indian Army has issued a directive barring its officers from being a member of any social media groups with non-serving personnel, including veterans.

Citing security reasons, the directive issued last month instructed all serving officers to exit WhatsApp and other social media groups that did not exclusively consist of serving officers whose identity could be verified.

The new policy also restrained family members from posting information about serving officers on social media and also directed military officials to restrict their posts on social media to general enquiries and assistance queries. For location-specific queries, the officers were asked to use military tel services.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the army initiated this move following attempts by foreign intelligence to gather information using social media platforms.

A source told the Hindu that, “the broad directive was not to be part of open-ended groups on WhatsApp and only be in groups where the identity of everyone is known”.

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In June, the UP police reportedly unearthed attempts by a Pakistani spy agent to hack into computer systems, using bots, of over nearly 100 military officials.

A senior officer told the Indian Express, “This is a cautionary step in line with the guidelines the Army keeps issuing from time to time. This is a new-age security requirement and it will not be right to call this censorship”.

Another officer told the Indian Express that the move seemed like a step aimed at curbing criticism. “There is obvious discontent which the establishment thinks is fanned by the veterans. The retired officers are often the more outspoken ones in these groups but then we have always been one family,” said an officer.