Govt may bar retired staff from using official email IDs to curb data leak

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As the government looks to tighten security around electronic infrastructure, it may stop the usage of official email IDs by retired staff.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC), which manages the information technology (IT) infrastructure of the government, will use artificial intelligence (AI) to segregate the personal of retired employees from their professional data. This means retired staff can retain access to their personal data, but professional data will be out of bounds.

Currently, an officer who resigns or superannuates after rendering at least 20 years of service is allowed to retain his official e-mail address for one year after retirement. Subsequently, a new e-mail address with the same user ID, but with a different domain address, is provided for the rest of his life.

The government move comes as there have been instances when retired officials have received emails related to the current work of the government -- maybe inadvertently -- creating the possibility of confidential information getting leaked. 

In private sector entities, official email IDs are taken away from employees when they retire or leave the company. However, the case with government organisations is different as the employees don't change jobs often and people usually leave only after retirement.

Employees use the official email for personal communication also and the ID becomes their primary source of communicating online, said An official in Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. As they have used the email for so many years, a lot of personal data is lying in the email. We are looking at using AI to segregate the data, the official added.

NIC provides two types of email IDs to staff — designation based and name based. Designation-based IDs should be used for official communication whereas name-based IDs can be used for both official and personal communication.

The government, in a few months, is going to launch an email service for five million employees because it is looking at securing communication across various departments.

NIC developed the service with a multi-pronged security layer and various security features to preclude any external attack on emails.

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