Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Secretary of State's E-mails

Mark Tushnet

I have nothing to say about the legalities of Secretary of State Clinton's e-mail practices, except perhaps to note that the reporting on the legal aspects of it (and, as far as I've seen, the general blogging about those aspects) is truly terrible. After a couple of days no one writing in those formats has tried to lay out what the relevant statutes say, and precisely what the regulations applicable to her said. (My guess is that somewhere out there there is a specialized blog that does so.)

My interest here is in a different question, posed by many. It goes something like this: "Why was the Secretary of State communicating with people on an e-mail account that could be hacked?" The assumption behind that question is that the Department of State's e-mail system is less vulnerable to hacking than something like Gmail. I for one certainly wouldn't make that assumption. The folks who run Gmail have a lot more technical expertise than the folks who run the Department of State's e-mail system, and there are a lot more of them. (And, on the other side of the equation, the folks who want to hack into the State Department's system probably have a substantially more intense desire to do so -- and so will devote more to the effort -- than the folks who want to hack into Gmail and rummage around in it for whatever state secrets happen to be there.)

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