If you’re like many, you may wonder what the big deal is about Hillary Clinton using a private e-mail server for her governmental duties. While there are way more important stories in the world, the concern about the former Secretary of state using an e-mail address linked to a personal server is legitimate. Besides the remote but intriguing possibility that she was handling foreign policy with a NextPrez2016@gmail.com handle, her sidestepping of the government network is a somewhat devious maneuver. Additionally, the security concerns that arise with using a private network are too dangerous when our nation’s sensitive information is involved.
All municipal and federal employees utilize government servers to correspond. As a former government worker, I can attest that rules stated I was never to use my personal e-mail for ”business”. With top flight encryption and consistent maintenance by IT engineers beyond the cutting edge, these networks are simply more secure than the average e-mail server. Big time public e-mail providers can’t be held to the same standard, because pictures of your week at the beach are a little less of a priority than protecting national security.
Last year seemed to be the year of leaks. Apple had a notorious cloud leak last August. Yahoo had an e-mail leak in September. An anonymous group called Guardians of Peace disturbed the peace at Sony Entertainment by leaking e-mail correspondence. In short: no matter how big the service, it can be vulnerable to the right (or wrong) hacker. If an anonymous group wanted to take aim at Clinton’s server, would it have stood the test?
Along with security concerns, conducting business as a public official with a private e-mail is a conflict of interest and a bit underhanded. State Department policy advises that “no expectation of privacy or confidentiality applies” to correspondence within the government’s e-mail system. Clinton’s office noted “Secretary Clinton exercised her privilege to ensure the continued privacy of her personal, non-work related emails” in a recently released document.
While she does have the right to delete e-mails she deems “private”, she doesn’t have the right to have sole control over all e-mails in the first place. To make a lunch time analogy, you can put back a case of eggs if you see a cracked one, but you can’t tell a store you want to see all the cases before they’re stocked.
If sensitive information had leaked, every other official on the government server may have had their e-mails surveyed to find the leak. With her own e-mail server, Clinton could have hypothetically decided that any e-mails that could have implicated her in the leak could be deleted and considered “private”, raising a legal and political fight sure to have a choke hold on the news and tax dollars. Who wants that?
Clinton’s sidestepping of the government network that every other public official uses is a dangerous precedent. Many local officials are guilty of it, but when somebody as big as the secretary of state does it, it’s another issue entirely.