Hipkins overreacts to email blocking

What is it with Labour at the moment? Their current strategy seems to be to overreact to things.

Starting yesterday and doubling down Leader Andrew Little poured scorn on an unfavourable  Colmar Brunton poll, so the media pored attention on Labour’s continuing struggles to look credible in the polls.

And today Chris Hipkins went overboard in his criticism when he had an email to a Fairfax journalist blocked.

Stuff: Parliamentary Service defends blocking email between MP and Fairfax journalist

An urgent investigation has being called for by Labour’s Chris Hipkins after an email he was trying to send to a Fairfax journalist was blocked on Monday night.

In an email exchange between Hipkins and Parliamentary Service, which provides administrative and support services to MPs, Labour’s chief whip was told his email was blocked because it had “trigger” words in it.

That’s fairly standard in just about any email system. Some of the blocking can seem stupid but it is easily sorted out. Parliamentary services has a secure email system, as it should.

Parliamentary Service told Hipkins the email he tried to forward was picked up by the secure system because he “sent it to a domain that does not use SEEMail” – in this case, Fairfax.

SEEMail is the agency used by Parliamentary Service for MPs and staff emails.

“SEEMail is an all of government secure messaging system that we subscribe to. SEEMail classified messages can only be sent to-from approved government departments and agencies,” Parliamentary Service wrote.

Parliamentary Service went on to confirm they had blocked the email because the attachment he was trying to send contained the words “SEEMail” and “sensitive”.

Hipkins says this is a “clear breach of parliamentary privilege”.

“That’s outrageous, they have no right to be screening the emails being sent by Members of Parliament. It shouldn’t matter where I got the information from, they’ve got no right to monitor my emails in the first place.”

“I know that National is now cosying up to (Fiji Prime Minister) Frank Bainimarama, but that doesn’t mean they can adopt his dictatorial, anti-democratic methods here in New Zealand,” he said.

That’s outrageous from Hipkins. He probably won’t be welcome in Fiji from now on, but he is blasting the wrong targets.

On further investigation, Labour staff found various other examples in the last few weeks where emails had been blocked – previously they’ve not had any issues.

It should be easily sorted out – if Hipkins goes through the appropriate process instead of grandstanding, offensively.

Parliamentary Services must allow reasonably unrestricted communications between MPs and journalists, and between MPs and constituents.

But the must also provide a secure email system that protects MPs

Perhaps some better communications are in order from Parliamentary Services, and from Hipkins.

The sooner Labour gets a competent chief of staff and some press officers that know what they are doing the better.

Leave a comment

19 Comments

  1. Iceberg

     /  13th September 2016

    It’s past time that Hipkins started using his own private email server.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th September 2016

      We all have emails going into junk that shouldn’t be there, and someone I know was astounded that one from his daughter that had the words ‘can’t keep it up’ in it was blocked by Telecom (needless to say that it was a perfectly innocent use of the expression)

      One website wouldn’t allow bitch and ass, despite the fact that they would be censoring the Bible amongst other classics where ass is used for donkey. One had to write b-itch and a-ss. ‘A spaniel b-itch is having puppies.’ ‘That man really is a silly a-ss.’ Too childish.

      Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  13th September 2016

      Wonder if there’s a cartoon to that effect tomorrow? Who can be rung – and convinced?

      Reply
  2. To: alllabourparty
    From: CH
    Subject: Email blocking
    Flag: CRISIS
    Watch out!! Emergency!! Crisis!!The evil NATZ are blocking our email!! Bark bark bark bark!
    Hippie

    To: alllabourparty
    From: AL
    Re: Email blocking
    Very ANGRY!!! My email blocked to! I have been trying to email my Nigerian uncle our account details and $10,000 dollars so we can get a whopping donation!!
    Angry

    To: alllabourparty
    From: TM
    Re: Email blocking
    Microsoft just called, there’s a fix we can download from thisisascamandwewillstealyourdetails.com, everyone should send their credit card, IRD, passport, birthdate and passwords to them now!
    Twev

    To: alllabourparty
    From: GR
    Re: Email blocking
    Done! Do you think your uncle could get a us a bigger donation if we send him a $100,000?
    MrWizard

    To: alllabourparty
    From: AL
    Re: Email blocking
    Let me check, am sure it will be ok to send $100,000, the donation will be fantastic! Billions I bet!! Hey Trev, what’s crypto locker?
    Irritated

    To: alllabourparty
    From: alllabourparty
    Re: Email blocking
    Hello, hello, hello?? Anyone there? Is email down? Echo echo echo echo…

    Reply
  3. duperez

     /  13th September 2016

    If grandstanding in our politics were blocked 80% of what goes on would not be known to us.

    Of course it isn’t outrageous from Hipkins, it’s a minor fuss and (as far as we know) he hasn’t called in Amnesty International, the Human Rights Commission or Dame Susan Devoy.

    Going through the appropriate process? Appropriate for whom and why? Grandstanding “offensively”? Well maybe he’s taken offence.

    Reply
  4. Missy

     /  14th September 2016

    PG, you are being kind calling it an over reaction, it just makes him look like a paranoid twit bordering on being more than a little stupid.

    Does he not understand the following:
    1. ALL businesses and organisations have filters and algorithms in place to pick up on certain words and phrases to block emails that may contain sensitive information so it is not sent to unauthorised people and organisations.
    2. IT is automatically applied!!
    3. There will be a way to release it via the IT guys.

    There are a couple of issues with this incident in my opinion, which should be looked at.
    1. The tweet above by Hipkins implies that the document he was sending had a Government Security Classification, if this is the case, why was he sending it to an unauthorised journalist?
    2. Does Hipkins not understand Security Classifications? If not, why has he not been told about them, and to understand that documents containing a classification (obviously) cannot be sent from a parliamentary email to an unauthorised email account?
    3. Is Chris Hipkins – or Labour MPs – the only one having emails blocked because of this? and if so, that must cause concern about what information they are trying to email out that has national security classifications.

    On the whole though, it is Hipkins that looks like the plonker here, and no matter how he tries to spin it, it will only be him and the nutty left that believe any of this is spying or monitoring of emails. If Little has any sense he will distance himself from this quickly.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  14th September 2016

      “Does Hipkins not understand Security Classifications? If not, why has he not been told about them, and to understand that documents containing a classification (obviously) cannot be sent from a parliamentary email to an unauthorised email account?”

      The mind boggles. If he had something to send to a media outlet why did he use the parliamentary e-mail service?

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  14th September 2016

        It isn’t so much that he used the Parliamentary email service, but to try and send something with a Government Security Classification on to a journalist is just stupid!

        But yeah, you would think that he would use a personal email account if he was leaking something to the media.

        He is an idiot.

        Reply
        • Pete Kane

           /  14th September 2016

          Its not at that point of course, it’s an OIA. The classification stamp remaining on the document is simply accurately refecting its various stages of ‘use’ It now has released on it.

          Reply
  5. David

     /  14th September 2016

    From the people who are outraged and call for ministers to be sacked when someone in a government department accidently sends an attached file.

    Reply
  6. Andrea Vance receiving messages from Peter Dunne all over again. I did think MPs would have got the message. I wonder what was in the attachment and whether it could have led to another investigation about leaking of classified material to the media. Hipkin’s complaint has no merit and he is dumb for making an issue of his own making.

    Reply
  7. Kevin

     /  14th September 2016

    Email won’t go? Pick up phone. Dial the phone number of the person you’re trying to send the email to.

    Problem. Solved.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  14th September 2016

      Spying ,intercepting pvt correspondence ,all in a days work for the despised stasis. …um hang on..this is NZ….but who cares….right!

      Reply
      • Iceberg

         /  14th September 2016

        No one cares Blazer. Not you, not even even Hipkins. He knows its a technical issue like everybody else. Like you, he’s just got an eye on the main chance. Anything to attack with. Even if it makes him look like a (bigger) dick.

        Facebook, Google and Instagram know more about Hipkins than the NZ Govt.

        Reply
  8. Iceberg, yes I support that but also add that if you read the Green Book “Security in Government Departments” the transfer of classified information by unclassified means is prohibited, and this has absolutely no relevance to Parliamentary Privilege which applies to all MPs as does the Green Book.

    Reply

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