Double trouble

Some provincial Liberal political aides "double-deleted" emails in an attempt to keep their communications confidential, Public Eye has exclusively learned. The aides believed "double-deleting" would prevent their emails from being saved by the government's back-up tapes, according to sources familiar with the practice. Here's how it worked: the aides would delete messages from their Outlook inbox and then empty the program's deleted messages folder. It's unclear how widespread "double-deleting" was or whether that practice presently continues.

Aides were never instructed or advised to "double-delete" their emails. Nevertheless, it's one more reason to question just how committed the Liberals have been to running the most open and accountable government in Canada - a promise they made in the 2001 election platform.

Among the others: six years ago, the premier's then deputy minister admitted to deleting most of his emails to avoid them being caught by media fishing expeditions.

Recently, the government also acknowledged it had overwritten backup tapes that contained high-level emails dating from 2003 and prior. Legislature raid trial defence lawyers had requested those and other emails. But the court was told those tapes were overwritten in the course of standard government practice.

A government spokesperson declined to say whether "double-deleting" would actually have prevented emails from being backed-up because it's "a matter that is before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

3 Comments

Might also want to mention the cruel fees involved in BC FOIA requests too.

Just to be on the fair side of things, IT servers only have so much capacity. Employees have to "double delete" their deleted files, or their mailboxes will be full and they can't receive, or send e-mail messages.

I don't know about most of us reading this, but whether it's at home, or work, we only have so much space and have to delete our delete boxes, empty caches etc.

Now, obviously I'm sure there is more involved in the e-mail paper trail discussed above. I'd also put money on it that some of the "aides" and others involved have their own little secret files where they've got copies of various documents. Anyone with half a brain in government learns quickly to keep copies of documents, because important docs have often gone mysteriously missing over the years and they are often things you need to protect yourself as an employee, because scapegoating is a regular modus operandi in government. I bet the Birk-Vasi boys wished they'd kept their own shadow files, or maybe they have done so.

Write this day on the calendar too, because I actually agree with something Josef K says. The BC government, in it's haphazard administration of FOI tries to charge exorbitant fees for information that should be disclosed and is in the public good.

Thanks BCLibS---

I'd recommend archiving galore. Also having external hard drives - one for the employee, another forthe agency. They don't cost that much and I use a few.

What is needed is for BC to xerox WA public records law. Washington State is increasingly aggressive & innovative on open government. Sadly, too many in politics don't get the value of open government, honesty & transparency.

My advice/counsulting to any politician in the blogging & social media era: If you want to read about your actions, carry on. If you don't want it discussed, either it's for security (in that you don't want genuine criminals having intel) or you don't do it... period.

My advice/request to Sean: Please troll around and see what some MLAs think of my thoughts. Maybe also some lobbyists.

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