Before the Monsoon Parliament Session began on September 14, “suspected accesses” to the Lok Sabha website were made, prompting the Lok Sabha Secretariat to geo-fence the site, the Lok Sabha Secretary General Snehlata Shrivastava revealed in Lok Sabha bulletin on September 30 (hat tip: Arpit Gupta). As a result, the website could not be accessed from outside India during the session. Some of these accesses were from “Korea, China, Japan and Spain”, as per the bulletin. The geo-fence has now been removed as the session has been adjourned.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat had received reports from the Network Security Division of the National Informatics Centre, the agency under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that provides ICT (information and communication technology) and e-governance support to all branches of the government. Before sensitive or privileged information could be accessed, or data could be exfiltrated, the geo-fence was setup, Ajit Choudhary, the joint director in the computer management branch of the Lok Sabha, told MediaNama.
In response to our question, he said that the Secretariat, which also houses a team of NIC to manage the Lok Sabha websites, had not received any reports of “suspicious access” from NIC after the geo-fence was put in place.
Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh (Congress) had tweeted that students abroad could not access either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha websites. “On checking I’m informed both LS & RS websites have been geofenced for a month, till mid-October, due to ‘continuous suspicious attacks’, and therefore can be accessed only from India,” he had said.
We have reached out to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to find out if a similar geo-fence was put into effect on its websites. We have also reached out to the NIC to find out which Korea is being talked about — North or South —, and what caused the issue in the first place.