The Big Think

July 5, 2014

Nothing to See Here

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 1:10 pm

Federal government email from the inside:

“here’s how I was briefed during the two terms of the Bush presidency in which I was honored to serve.

At least once a year, I was required to participate in a formal training session in the agency’s regional office dealing with issues of national security, the Freedom of Information Act, record retention and other directives about the use of the government’s computer systems.

Some years there were additional briefings at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the Justice Department and Homeland Security present. On more than one occasion, White House officials provided instructions, including the president’s chief of staff.

I was told that anything I did with my computer or Blackberry device would result in a permanent record being created. Only classified communications would be encrypted, and all the rest would be discoverable in any legal proceedings.

…Upon the end of my term of service, I was required to sign an affirmative statement that I had not removed nor caused to be removed any government record from the office.

Any notion that I could just erase something after it had been sent was conclusively dashed when the hard drive inside my desktop computer in my office crashed.

The tech guy came in, quickly removed the drive and told me he would try to fix it. I explained to him that my concern was that all my data, including email that I often searched through, was on that drive and could be lost.

His reply was to assure me that every stroke of my keyboard had been backed up multiple times in the local office and off site as well, and nothing would be lost.

If he couldn’t fix the drive he had removed, he would simply set up a new one and transfer everything that was there from the moment it failed and it would be completely restored.

Maybe my experience is why the latest polls are finding about 75 percent of the American people believe Congress should keep investigating what happened to Lerner’s emails.”

You don’t say.

Every email that I have been sent since 1993 is attainable in the event that I have a computer crash. It’s backed up automatically in two separate places offsite and trivial to get to. The notion that an agency with an 11 billion dollar budget and a specific legal mandate to retain these very records has done a worse job than little old me with no budget and free tools is preposterous.

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