Where's The Line In What Sorts Of Gov't Communications Need To Be Recorded?

from the fine-lines dept

With the rise of new forms of electronic communication, there have been growing problems in figuring out what sort of government communications need to be recorded and preserved. You may remember that there were concerns early on that President Obama wouldn’t be allowed to use his Blackberry. Some of those concerns were over security issues, but also there were fears about how every message would need to be recorded and available to the public at some point. This was the same reason that former presidents Bush (the younger) and Clinton did not use email while in office. Down in Florida, apparently, they’re going through a debate concerning the use of Blackberry devices, since Blackberries have a special “PIN to PIN” messaging system that works among Blackberries, where those messages aren’t recorded — and certainly, many politicians (and lobbyists) are making use of the system to communicate outside of the “official channels” to avoid having it recorded.

While some are saying this is a reason why Blackberries shouldn’t be used at all by these politicians, that seems to miss the point. Yes, it may seem troubling that lobbyists and politicians can and do communicate without any record, but is getting rid of Blackberries really going to solve the issue? For the entire history of the country politicians and lobbyists (from before they were called that) were able to communicate without recording the details through the high tech method of speaking to each other face to face. Saying that all communication needs to be recorded and archived in some manner ignores that plenty of conversations take place by voice all the time that have no such recordings and no way to trace them back. So, yes, worry about corruption between lobbyists and politicians, but focus on the actual issue, not on trying to cut off one of many different ways they might communicate.

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Comments on “Where's The Line In What Sorts Of Gov't Communications Need To Be Recorded?”

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justok (profile) says:


I think the idea, since collusion can’t be totally prevented, is to limit the ease of such endeavors. If the “conspiracies” are hampered by requiring face-to-face conversations, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Should we allow them to use govt funded tools to make it even easier for them to abuse their positions and authority?

In Canada, there is growing concern over ‘amoral’ political aides giving orders to bureaucrats. In one example, a political aide ordered govt workers to block the release of information requested under the Access to Information Act.


Mrten says:

There is a difference between face-to-face communication and ‘pin-to-pin’ that might be relevant:

Face-to-face communication needs to be, well, face-to-face, and this is something that can be observed by third parties. You can try to do face-to-face in total secret but that won’t work for a very long time (think drivers, spouses, secretaries).

The fact *that* you’re talking to someone is important information, sometimes even more important then what you’re talking about.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Let them

Yeah, what they would need is some kind of ultra intelligent multi-national SIG/INT system to {Redacted by Sys/EchelonNET}, which would secure only the Blackberry devices of {Redacted by Sys/EchelonNET}.

That way these slippery politicians could continue to {Redacted by Sys/EchelonNET}.

Phew, good thing such a system doesn’t exist….

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

I think the whole concept that all such communication should be recorded is a poor idea. If I am bashing a political opponent in public, he might not want to talk to me officially even though coming to an understanding over some issues could be very beneficial. Cabinet meetings and such should be recorded, but doing things off the record is necessary if things are going to get done.

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