A serving lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army has challenged a ban on using social media on mobile phones. In a plea filed with the High Court of Delhi, the officer challenged the directive by the Director General of Military Intelligence asking all personnel in the Indian Army to delete Facebook, Instagram, and 87 other social media applications, saying it is “characteristic of authoritarian regimes and is against the democratic and constitutional foundation of India".
"Soldiers rely on social networking platforms like Facebook to address various issues arising in their families while posted in remote locations and often use the virtual connection to compensate for the physical distance existing between themselves and their families", reads the petition
The petitioner pleaded that in the absence of social media, he was finding it difficult to connect with his family, who resides outside India.
The officer said he uses his Facebook account responsibly in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Indian Army and has never shared any classified or sensitive information on his role and duties as an army officer over Facebook or any other social media platform.
The army officer sought the court to ask the military to withdraw the “draconian” policy to the extent that it precludes army personnel from using social media or requires them to delete existing accounts.
The banned mobile applications include 59 applications of Chinese origin and several American platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Indian Army sources had said the directive was issued because there has been an exponential increase in the number of military personnel targeted online by intelligence agencies from Pakistan and China. The army also warned its personnel that stern action would be taken against violators.
The ban by the army follows a similar decision by the Indian Navy, which banned the use of Facebook by its personnel and prohibited the carrying of mobile phones in dockyards and on naval ships.