ISLAMABAD:The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday disposed of a petition challenging the interior ministry’s ban on its officials as well as employees of its subordinate departments from speaking to the media without permission and sharing documents or any other information on social networking websites.
The plea against the restrictions was filed by a citizen, Owais, through his lawyer Advocate Mian Asif.
However, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah disposed of the petition when the petitioner and his lawyer did not appear before the court for the hearing.
On December 16, the interior ministry issued a notification restraining its officials and employees of its subordinate departments including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), the Directorate General of Civil Defence, the Frontier Corps and the Pakistan Rangers from issuing statements to the media without the interior secretary‘s approval.
The ministry has also prohibited officials from speaking to the media without permission and using social networking websites to express their views or upload any information or documents.
Last month, a parliamentary panel was informed that the National Information Technology Board (NITB) had recommended to the government to impose ban on social media sites and communication networks like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube in the government offices fearing a risk of leakage of important data.
Under the plan, government officials would also be banned from bringing storage devices like USBs to their offices.
A new communication system ‘Govt-App’ on pattern of WhatsApp would be introduced for the federal government employees to store data in Pakistan to reduce risks of data leakage. The implementation of this framework is likely to impose a complete ban on the use of social media by the government servants during work hours.
The federal government under the e-office project is introducing 12 systems to digitalise the operation of various departments in a bid to enhance their efficiency. The NITB is working on these systems.
The secretaries of the ministries and divisions concerned would electronically inform about the implementation of cabinet’s decisions and further developments and also upload these developments in the system which would be sent to all the members of the cabinet.
The dashboards of the information management system will be available with the premier and cabinet division. The PM will be able to check on his discretion the status of the implementation of the cabinet’s decisions on a real-time basis and cabinet division will provide a summary of decisions on a real-time basis.
The NITB is introducing a self-information management system, a system to find sources of fake news on social media, centralised data centre and counter money laundering system to curtail money laundering.