Thursday 25 May 2017

Commissioner's email blunder shows a disregard for security and privacy runs through all levels of force

'If the Commissioner has shown that she is not prepared to abide by the rules, it will be difficult for her to discipline others for doing the same.'
'If the Commissioner has shown that she is not prepared to abide by the rules, it will be difficult for her to discipline others for doing the same.'

TJ McIntyre

Reading the news this week, you would be forgiven for thinking that Gmail stands for Garda Mail rather than Google Mail. The revelation that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has been using a private email account for official correspondence raises some significant issues.

The most basic is motive: why has the Commissioner been using a private account in breach of Garda regulations? When it emerged that Hillary Clinton was using a private server for her state department emails, the immediate suspicion was that she was doing so to avoid freedom of information laws and public scrutiny. In this case, however, the purpose seems to be more mundane.

Dated IT systems mean that gardaí cannot send or receive attachments on their official email accounts - it is not surprising that some will resort to outside email instead. While this might be understandable, it still highlights an ongoing management failure. As the Garda Inspectorate has pointed out, gardaí are still not being provided with the technological tools they need to do their job.

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