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Federal Government ban on intra and inter-department email

Thursday, 01 April 2010
By Print21

Security concerns over increased information leaks prompts the return of paper-based letters and memos.

The growing practice of government officials using the copy function when sending emails is causing headaches, with the wrong people receiving emails. In one case, a departmental secretary inadvertently copied the entire Cabinet with her unfavourable opinion of President Barak Obama’s decision to cancel his visit to Australia.

The leaked email was forwarded to the US Embassy in Canberra and is the cause of a major embarrassment for the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The scandal promoted the Government to clamp down on the use of emails and especially the CC function.

“This is the kind of thing that is happening all the time. People are not taking care to limit their email communications,” said Lirpa Tsrif, secretary of the Federal Office of Operational Logistics. “Emails are not a secure means of communicating and the Government is taking a decision to return to paper-based messages.”

He hinted that if the trial is a success it may be extended beyond the Federal Government into NGOs and the private sector. “The Prime Minister believes the return to paper-based communication will not only improve the nation’s security but will help literacy rates among young people” he said. It is well known that Prime Minister Rudd thinks youngsters spend too much time on electronic games and texting.

The move to ban emails was welcomed by the paper and printing industries, which has suffered from the growth of electronic communications. “This is something we have been arguing for for years,” said Folio Schaffer, CEO of industry lobby group, Print More Now (PMN). “The return of letter writing and the use of memos will increase the amount of paper being used and signal a return to the use of letterhead stationery. It’s good news for the whole industry.”

The strict new rules will come into effect in the next financial year but observers advise that the printing industry should not be caught in a situation where it is refusing to exhale.

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