The UK Information Commissioner Office (ICO) has launched an official investigation into the use of personal email accounts by Ministers of the UK government. It was recently revealed that former secretary for health, Matt Hancock used his personal Gmail account for government work.
Announcing the investigation, the Information Commission Elizabeth Denham said that information in private email accounts is forgotten, overlooked, autodeleted, or otherwise not available for a ‘freedom of information request. This puts the preservation of official records at risk, which can help in future decision-making. She further added that emails containing personal details are not properly secured in personal email accounts, which could be a violation of data protection laws.
The investigation will look into the use of private correspondence channels at the Department for Health and Social Care, and private emails from health minister Lord Bethell. The ICO has already served information notices on the department to preserve evidence related to the investigation.
The ICO has the power to seize evidence and recommend criminal prosecution if it finds that information has been destroyed, altered, or concealed deliberately. It also has the power to recommend good practices and has produced guidance on the use of private communication channels.
E-mail policy of the Government of India
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology maintains policies on government’s email usage, passwords, as well as security. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the implementing agency for the government of India’s email services. The email policy strictly prohibits the use of any other e-mail service other than that provided by the NIC.
However, the policy exempts organizations dealing with national security that have their own independent e-mail servers, provided that the servers are hosted in India.