New rules allow MPs to opt out of email screening service

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MPs can now opt out of a computer security system that screened and blocked their emails.

Chief whip Chris Hipkins calls on the Speaker to investigate Parliamentary Services blocking emails containing sensitive Government information.
Source: 1 NEWS

Parliamentary Service use of SEEmail caused a row at Parliament last year, when MPs realised any messages containing sensitive information were being scanned and blocked.

Now after discussions with Speaker David Carter and Internal Affairs minister Peter Dunne, Parliamentary Service have agreed on new rules.

Mr Dunne said he decided to step in after Labour MP Chris Hipkins raised the issue in Parliament in September.

Mr Dunne said: "I did not think MPs should be treated this way".

Parliamentary Service had defended the system as a way of stopping classified or secret info inadvertently going to unintended recipients.

And MPs that don't want their emails checked and encrypted by SEEMail can choose to opt out.

New guidelines just issued by Parliamentary Service told MPs and staff that the SEEMail system: “checks and encrypts all email sent between participating agencies (most government agencies); ensures information classified per the NZSIS classification standards is not emailed accidentally outside of SEEMail member agencies; and ensures information classified as Confidential, Secret or Top Secret is never emailed via the internet.”

It adds: “Members can now choose for the emails from selected accounts to be excluded from SEEMail's classification checks" – once they fill in a form.

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