PM Turnbull using Netregistry email for official business


news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged he is using a private email platform hosted by a non-government provider for official business relating to his ministerial roles, in a revelation which has already reminded commentators of the hot water which US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton found herself in for the same behaviour.

Overnight, The Australian newspaper (we recommend you click here for the full article) revealed that Turnbull and his wife, Lucy Turnbull, operated a private email server, which has been used for purposes including conducting government business. The server has been used during Turnbull’s time as Communications Minister and in his new role as Prime Minister. Turnbull’s office has issued the following statement:

“Many MPs and Ministers use private messaging systems — including SMS, WhatsApp, Wickr, etc and private emails etc — for non-sensitive material for reasons of convenience and superior functionality.”

“All communications or records of a minister which relate to his or her duties are [subject to many exemptions] potentially subject to Freedom of Information whether it is on SMS, a private email server or a Government email server. The majority of Government correspondence is routine and of a non-sensitive nature and is therefore not subject to sensitive security markings.”

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the server is hosted by Netregistry, and that it was previously managed by TPP Internet, acquired by Netregistry in 2009.

The news mimics a situation earlier this year in which US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton was revealed to have been using a private email account to send and receive tens of thousands of emails relating to her role of Secretary of State under US President Barack Obama.

Clinton denied using a private email account to send or receive classified information during her role as Secretary of State, but did later apologise for the use of the system for official business, stating that she should have separated the accounts.

Opinion/analysis to follow.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


    • Give the guy a break – he “practically invented the internet” after all. Right?

      Having said that, using alternative communications channels doesn’t make someone less tech savvy. Turnbull also uses wickr iirc. :)

    • His personal email should be coming from a private email address, not a government one, so why the media beatup on this. He has done exactly the right thing.

      I’m taking press’s assertion of him using it for “official” business with a grain of salt.

      probably even a smart thing, by avoiding Google and Microsoft’s email systems, where the US government and their spy organisations get access to everything in them!

      • If you think the US or any other government agencies are interested in you then a normal commercial email provider is no protection.

  1. What a non-event story, to be brutally honest. It’s clearly trading off the notoriety of the Clinton thing in the US which, in itself, no mater how much the media keeps trying to push it along, has gone absolutely nowhere.

    • It’s never a “non-event” to call out the hypocrisy of Malcolm “we need an open government” Turnbull…

  2. I’m concerned that he is using a service from NetRegistry. Back in about 2008/09 we used NetRegistry for domain registration and control, until one day we couldn’t log into the account. After two days of emails and phone calls and proving who we were we regained control and discovered the cause – an ex-client who we had registered a domain for (the only contact we ever had with them, and they never paid for it) decided they wanted to make use of the domain, but instead of contacting us they got NetRegistry to hand over control of the domain. All NetRegistry did to verify was to ensure they had a valid and applicable business name for that one domain then handed over control of the entire account including fifty or sixty unrelated domains.

    It’s only because we used the account regularly that we picked it up so quickly, but I dread to think what could have happened if they had known what they were doing and had malicious intent. Repeated emails, letters and phone calls to NetRegistry customer service and even management got us nowhere, so we took our business elsewhere.

    So the idea that the PM of the country is using the services of a bunch of unapologetic incompetents who don’t even remotely take privacy and security seriously is very worrying indeed.

  3. Media upset about it because they could not hack it. Media should hack the 15 year old terrorist family’s emails and the emails of William Tyrells foster parents and granny people who they are covering up instead of worrying about our good PM who realises what they can get up to.

    • No Sue, media are bringing this to light because privately hosted email services don’t have anything like the accountability and auditing processes in place to track emails through individual accounts. Corporations and government departments are required to have extensive logs, historical backups and auditing systems in place in case shareholders, law enforcement or applicable public interest investigations require that data. Private hosts have no such capability – if you delete emails there is no history after just a few months. Where is the accountability? Where is the transparency? Where is the confidence and trust when there is no ability for investigations to go back and check that everything was done legally and correctly?

      The PM (and, indeed, any Minister) has absolutely no business using a private mail server for anything but private matters. They should never discuss anything related to their job or official business and the moment they gain office private accounts should be required by law to be disclosed and monitored for the sake of transparency and accountability.

      Your attempt to dismiss this story by raising two completely unrelated topics is a poor effort at derailment – this has absolutely nothing to do with media hacking nor the actions of a disaffected 15yo murderer. In fact, if you want to talk about unauthorised access, hacking a private mail server run by NetRegistry would be orders of magnitude easier than hacking high level government servers, so your argument is utterly flawed anyway.

    • I am genuinely confused as to how you draw your conclusions, how phone hacking in the UK somehow affects which email service Mr Turnbull uses (in Australia), or how the sword wielding jihadi’s have anything to do with anything, at all.

Comments are closed.