MPs need to pay attention to one another

HillierOn Wednesday 6th December the Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier explained to her colleagues and the rest of the world “Technology is clearly critical to combating cyber-crime, and developing effective common defences should be a priority. Policing must also be more consistent. Government has a vital role in ensuring this happens.” Although this comment was made as part of a focus on bank crime, tragically at the same time some of her co workers in the House of Commons were focusing on the defence of Damian Green who has now departed from his role in the Cabinet. In order to explain how pornography might have appeared on his own computer, two MPs and a BBC producer spent the previous weekend disclosing how MPs handle their own cyber-security. On Saturday 2nd December Nadine Dorries posted on twitter:

My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCnews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous !!

The following evening James Clayton whose twitter bio describes him as ‘Award winning producer and reporter for @BBCNewsnight’ posted:

It is extremely common for MPs to share their parliamentary login details with their staff. Seems slightly unfair to vilify @NadineDorries for what is common practice

And another MP, Nick Boles a one time Government Minister sought to support Mr Clayton and Ms Dorries posting:

I certainly do. In fact I often forget my password and have to ask my staff what it is.

One of the reasons Nadine Dorries original post raised such a fuss on twitter is that most businesses and organisations have very clear rules about the use of passwords and this approach adopted by these workers at the House of Commons would lead to suspension and even dismissal from roles in many other places. Indeed the House of Commons Handbook includes matters of Cyber Security under section 5.8 which states at the third bullet point “You MUST NOT share your password”. As a result of this I have created a petition which calls on the authorities in the Houses of Parliament to carry out an audit of all of the offices of MPs and Peers so that the full scale of such problems can be identified. One reason why I believe this should happen is that my details exist on the computer of my MP because I write to her on occasions. Whilst I have no reason to question the cyber-security in the office of Caroline Lucas, all of us deserve to know with confidence that when we contact our MP that our confidential details are properly protected. The link to the petition is here. Please consider signing it.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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