Singapore is taking the internet away from all of its 140,000 public servants

A wired city pulls the plug.
A wired city pulls the plug.
Image: Reuters/Edgar Su
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Singaporean public servants are about to lose their internet privileges.

The government will cut internet access on computers used by “all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards” starting May 2017, the Straits Times reports.

Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority, which oversees information technology policy, started the plan in its own offices in April this year, the paper reported. Internet access will be cut off from all office computers, and employees who need to use the internet can use one of several designated “internet terminals.”

Emails from work can be forwarded to a personal email account and then accessed on home computers or mobile devices, but can’t be retrieved on office computers.

The Singaporean government hopes to prevent leaks of emails and documents, or the possibility that malware could be installed on its systems. Quartz reached out to Singaporean officials to learn more about the proposal but did not receive an immediate response.

The proposal comes amidst Singapore’s widely-trumpeted Smart Nation initiative, in which the government has pledged to merge technology with public infrastructure. As part of the plan, authorities installed traffic-monitoring sensors in parts of the city, and plan to bring self-driving taxis to the streets.

Blocking internet access for the city’s public servants—who numbered 143,000 in early 2015—is certainly counter-intuitive, some citizens noted.

“Our civil servants will have the Internet cut off from their computers next year. Because we Smart Nation,” wrote satirical Singaporean blogger Mr. Brown on Facebook, with this image:

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