Turnbull’s turn to explain using private email for professional communication; cyber security expert favours PM

By @pathakmishra on
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his new federal cabinet during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, September 20, 2015. Australia got its fifth prime minister in as many years on Monday after the ruling Liberal Party voted to replace Abbott with former investment banker Malcolm Turnbull, following months of infighting and crumbling voter support. Reuters/David Gray

The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that Malcolm Turnbull uses his private email service to communicate in spite of holding Australia’s topmost position. However, Australian National University’s cyber security expert Tom Worthington said that the prime minister has done nothing wrong.

Turnbull’s love of technology is known but still he has dared to put official government information at stake by continuing to use his non-government email ID for interacting with political officials and other higher authorities. The prime minister admitted using secret messaging app called Wickr, which offers high security features.

The PM justified using the app and said that it claimed sending encrypted messages to other users with no metadata left behind to trace. The messages in Wickr self-destroy once read by the users.

The PMO stated that Turnbull has been using the server outside of federal government since he became the PM. However, the leader’s spokesperson claimed that the server used by the system is located in Australia. “Many MPs and Ministers use private messaging systems — including SMS, WhatsApp, Wickr, etc and private emails etc — for non-sensitive material for reasons of convenience and superior functionality,” he said as quoted by the ABC.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked for an explanation. “Malcolm Turnbull should just come and explain what’s been used, has there been any classified information sent," he said. “Malcolm Turnbull's now in charge of the nation, there are rules for this, he can clear this up just tell us what's happened when and put the facts on the table.”

This is not the first time a high-ranking political figure has been blamed of using private emails. Prior to Turnbull, U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suffered from similar allegations when she was the secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.

Though the then-U.S. top diplomat admitted using non-governmental email to communicate, she denied allegations of using it to share classified government information.

In September, Clinton made an apology in an interview on ABC News, saying, “That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility.” She added, “As I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts, one for personal emails, one for work-related emails,” she added.

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