Internet access to be cut from public servants' computers

Making the rounds on social media is a recent article by The Straits Times that said that all computers officially used by public servants in Singapore will be cut off from the Internet come May 2017. This was in a bid to tighten security.

As many as 100,000 computers used by the public service will be affected by the new policy. The move has garnered a strong online reaction, with 1.5k Facebook reactions, 2.1k shares in just two hours since its posting on the ST Facebook page. Many called the policy ‘backward’ and contradictory of the Smart Nation movement which has been promoted extensively.

One of the first governing bodies to roll out the new practices is the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) in Singapore, which has started in April for selected groups in the organisation, Marketing confirmed.

When contacted, a spokesperson from IDA clarified that internet access will still be available on specific work terminals which have internet access and employees will still be able to access the web on personal devices. Daily operations such as the receiving of emails will not be compromised.

“The Singapore Government regularly reviews our IT security to make our IT network more secure.  We have started to separate internet access from the work stations of a selected group of public service officers, and will do so for the rest of the public service officers progressively over a one-year period. There are alternatives for internet access and the work that officers need to do, does not change,” read an official statement given to Marketing.

An iDA spokesperson also added the move was not in response to any data breach incidents in the government recently. The policy, she clarified is hence a measure against the pervasive nature of data infrastructure as well as connectivity and will not contradict the Smart Nation movement.

"The Smart Nation Movement is about using data wisely to better the lives of citizens, and this extends to the protection of the very data as well," the spokesperson said.