Services & Software

Singapore's civil servants are set to lose internet privileges

The country's government is planning on blocking the internet from civil servants starting next year in the interest of security.

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By this time next year, Singapore's civil servants will have lost access to the internet.

The change, which was announced yesterday, is designed to prevent any leaks from work emails and shared government documents, as well as to safeguard the country's serves from malware, The Straits Times reported.

The ban, which will affect all 100,000 or so computers used by government agencies, ministries and statutory boards, will come into effect in May 2017.

Singapore's Information Development Authority (IDA), the government agency in charge of IT, revealed that it had already begun a trial run of the initiative beginning in April this year within its own agency. Civil servants who need to use to internet will reportedly have access to "internet terminals".

The IDA has said that civil servants would still have access to the internet via their own personal devices while at work.

For many, the move is baffling, especially considering that Singapore is one the most wired countries in the world and also boasts the world's fastest peak average internet speeds. Singapore has also embarked on a multi-billion dollar "Smart Nation" initiative, for which the government intends to use internet technologies to improve facets of public life, such as transportation and healthcare.

However, others see the benefits of the move.

"There is no right or wrong approach around banning the internet," says Tony Jarvis, Check Point Software Technologies' chief strategist for threat prevention APAC, Middle East & Africa. "At first glance, the decision to ban internet access might seem extreme. However, it is important to note that this decision will have been made after careful review."

He says that the removal of internet access will bring "the benefit of reducing exposure to many threats" at the cost of productivity and organisational efficacy.