The Independent has a story today about concerns, or what it describes as ‘panic’, across Whitehall as Ministers are informed that they may have to open up private email. There are even suggestions of a ‘trawl’ by officials to find any emails containing discussion of government business.
The ICO has now begun an investigation at the Department for Education amid allegations that one of Gove’s advisors explicitly informed other officials that he would only answer emails to his gmail account, a rather wonderful example of a chilling effect.
Politicians in the UK are not the only ones to suffer. Obama had a struggle over holding onto his Blackberry in office, in part over concerns about whether it was caught under the Presidential Records Act (brought in after Nixon’s dogged resistance over releasing his expletive laden tapes). Emails can be a rich source for FOI, as this story about Australian Prime Minister Gillard apparently berating Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd over his expenses shows. On a related technological development, the ICO recently announced that Tweets now count as legitimate FOI requests.