Furloughed Federal Workers Can't Check Their Email… But Don't Worry, The NSA Can Still Check Yours

from the life-under-the-shutdown dept

So with the federal government shut down, it turns out that it’s actually illegal for furloughed government employees to check their work email. Yes, if you’re a public servant who actually feels obligated to do some public service by checking your email (for example, to find out if you’re supposed to go back to work), you’re probably breaking the law. But, have no fear, while those government employees can’t check their own email, the NSA will still be checking your email.

A government shutdown, set for Oct. 1 if lawmakers fail to strike a deal, would be unlikely to impede the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

“A shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations,” a government official familiar with the plans said.

Nice to see them focused on priorities. Perhaps there’s a “modest proposal” sort of solution here, where we get the NSA and FBI to read the emails of the furloughed employees to let them know what they’re missing.

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Comments on “Furloughed Federal Workers Can't Check Their Email… But Don't Worry, The NSA Can Still Check Yours”

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Erik Grant says:

Is there news in this article? I’m trying to find something in there that isn’t just complaining, but it’s hard.

Of course the NSA isn’t shutting down because of a government shutdown. Aside from everything you hate they do, there are absolutely legitimate reasons for us to continue to fund the national defense in the event of a government shutdown. Hell, that’s the only thing the tea party can agree on.

It is equally obvious that furloughed workers can’t check their e-mails. It’s against the law for them to be working right now, that’s why they were sent home. I’m sure a lot of them would have volunteered on the promise of back-pay when things get fixed, but again, illegal.

This is not news, this is not shocking, it isn’t even a mild surprise. This is just some kind of clickbaiting crap.

I guess I took the bait.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, it’s illegal for government employees to check emails, and yes, the article points this out…by contrasting it with the NSA who despite every single law that doesn’t come from a secretive FISA court is allowed to paw through EVERYONE’s email. Yes, this isn’t exactly news per se, but it offers a perspective on recent events.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree then. I agree with you on the point that the article doesn’t really impart anything new but the contrast between one group of people being told it’s illegal for them to check their own (work) email while another group is allowed read everyone else’s without any limit is still rather pertinent.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even if your analysis of this post is correct… so what? Techdirt routinely runs pieces that don’t interest me. What I do is skip them and read the pieces that do interest me instead.

What I don’t do is make comments about how the pieces that don’t interest me aren’t interesting to me. Because that would just be stupid.

Erik Grant says:

Re: Re:

I think the news media has overblown this point because it sounds really racy.

In reality, do you think that most of the members of Congress and the president actually need the money they get paid? I guarantee you that the President and the Senate are all independently wealthy. They should not be paid at all. I’m sure that many members of the House do have their jobs for a primary source of income, as it’s a lot easier for an “everyman” to take a House seat, but even then, I don’t imagine most of them are hurting for money.

I say members of Congress and the president should have to prove need if they want to draw a salary from the government. Nobody ought to be serving for the paycheck in this day and age, and there’s no sense paying millions in salaries to rich people. Service is about sacrafice, and they ought to show people they know that.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ever read fantasy author David Eddings? In one of his books, can’t remember the exact title, but it’s in the series the Tamuli, an Empress who is from a conquered republic explains her nation’s form of government. She says that anyone can be nominated for office. Once they’re nominated, they’re put under heavy guard and all their belongings are seized and sold. If they’re elected, they then literally have to work as hard as possible to make sure their nation’s economy prospers, so as to generate a profit and get a return. They can’t force a false profit either, since tax rates are fixed and unalterable. While the scene was written mainly for laughs, it does get you thinking that maybe Eddings was onto something here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Prosecutor: We bring our next defendant to court, Ed Smith, for the crime of illegally accessing his work email.

Judge: Why’s that illegal?

Prosecutor: He did it during a shut down when he was supposed to be furloughed, so he did it as a private citizen illegally breaking into top secret government email accounts, rather than as an employee.

Ed Smith: So by your logic I’m supposed to swap out my brain with another brain, depending on if I’m at work or at home because otherwise the private citizen me has access to top secret government data?

Prosecutor: Exactly! You’ve violated CFAA because you didn’t do that. Until we invent a way to wipe your memory you’re going to jail for the next 30 years.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think I can sum this up:

Everything that has been shut down is responsible for, in some way shape or form, directly informing the public in either process, procedure or just plain information awareness (and entertainment). What has not been shutdown is, essentially, everything that is responsible for enforcing law, order and the pursuit of total information awareness.

In other words, it’s a show and the front-row casualties of that show? Well that would be the public and public employees that, perhaps unlike elected representatives, actually need and value their paychecks.

It would be a pretty good show if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a pretty bad show.

The only solace in all of this is that those that find themselves in need of accessible health coverage will soon be able to acquire said coverage. It has always been interesting to me how those that are covered get to dictate to those that aren’t. Where there is money to be made …

The health care playing field is still in need of more social leveling regardless.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The part where people get health care that didn’t have it?

By leveling I meant fuckall markets, everybody gets some. Citizen -> health care.
That’s what I meant by a social leveling. And we can start by idiot proofing the electorate and neutering politics for profit.

I carried a bill for an ambulance ride from my teens into my mid 20’s. That was just the ride part and walking was not an option.

So.. yeah, step the fuck up and buy some health care. Someone you love, apart from board members and insurance execs, might end up actually profiting.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I assure you, as someone who was once young and indestructible and is now getting older and less healthy, I am incredibly glad I have ‘health insurance’ in the form of taxes I’ve paid over the last 20 years. Everyone young will be old too one day, and they’ll then be glad of any social safety nets.

Frankly, anyone whining about feeding the poor or depriving anyone of (free) healthcare doesn’t know squat about history and how horrific things were in the past (even for the rich at times). Maybe if they don’t want to play with modern social mores they should give up the other benefits of a modern technological society as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Everyone young will be old too one day…”. Uh, what? Man, I wish I lived in your world where nobody ever dies young.
Free healthcare? Did you just say free healthcare? Another great thing about your world is that NOBODY has to pay. No taxes, no nothing, it’s just FREE! Not sure how the doctors and such get compensated in your world, but hey, who’s complaining?
Nope, guess I don’t know squat about the history of this wonderful world you live in. Maybe someday I’ll hop on board a yellow submarine and pay your world a visit.

ECA (profile) says:

Its a Wonder

The Gov. is strange.
It works LIKE a business, but still isnt..

Which is easier? Drop 1,000,000 employees?
or to CUT top wages in gov.?
or DROP the TOP people that really dont need to be there??

there are SOME employees in the gov. making over $100k per year. lay him off or 5 others?
I will BEt those top wages earners ARNT laid off.
You need a dept head to tell you that NO one is there..

The fun part, is the PARt employees dont see..THE EXTRA that is paid for them.
Medical, State taxes, Matching funds for many of these..

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