All government officials in Singapore will be barred from accessing the internet on their work computers from May next year in a move “aimed at plugging potential leaks from work email and shared documents amid heightened security threats,” the Straits Times reported. A memo about the unprecedented move is being sent to all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards in the city-state, the report added.
“The Singapore government regularly reviews our IT measures to make our network more secure,” a spokesman for the nation’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), under Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information, said.
The various government departments together use about 100,000 computers, all of which will be affected by the rule. In April, some IDA employees were made trial subjects. Internet browsing can be done on personal devices, which are not connected to the government systems, and for those who need to use the internet for work, dedicated terminals would be set up.
According to the BBC, government employees would also be prohibited from forwarding work emails to their personal accounts.
Social media users responded mostly with shock and sarcasm, calling the move a drastic throwback to a pre-internet era and the ushering in of an analog age.
Singapore already censors the internet, blocking access to various websites considered objectionable, such as those it considers pornographic, supportive of piracy or offering information about drugs.