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British Judge Uses Personal Email To Send Details of Sensitive Court Case (theregister.co.uk) 47

New submitter evolutionary shares a report from The Register: Concerns have been raised over a British judge's use of his personal email address to send out a ruling in a family court case, which contained sensitive personal information. The Register has seen evidence that the judge in question used two personal accounts to send out a draft ruling and final ruling: one using a domain owned by his son and another email account associated with iCloud. The use of personal email seems highly unusual - with all government departments subject to the mandatory guidance for securing government email. [One legal expert, who asked not to be named, told The Register that the judge's behavior raised a number of issues such as a possible breach of mandatory standards, and "may pose a risk to the organization he works for and those he interacts with outside the organization."

evolutionary adds: "The article doesn't specify the tone suggests emails sent were unencrypted."

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British Judge Uses Personal Email To Send Details of Sensitive Court Case

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @06:29AM (#54784643)

    Story #36/2017...

    The only thing that really scares me is that these are the people that make legally binding decisions about IT, and they prove again and again that they are by no means qualified to make such decisions.

    • judges are smart enough to keep their salary. they dont need to know IT. they have people to do that for them but we have known that for years.
      • Then I guess they should fire those people and hire better ones. The average 10 year old knows better than that.

        • The average 10 year old will Twitter, Facebook and Instagram her/his stuff publicly. Still no excuse for the judge's behavior.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Story #36/2017...

      The only thing that really scares me is that these are the people that make legally binding decisions about IT, and they prove again and again that they are by no means qualified to make such decisions.

      Who'd have thought it. A British judge who's obviously fully qualified to sit on the bench in an East Texas patents court

    • Story #36/2017...

      Stupid = Yes
      News = No

    • by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @08:30AM (#54785055) Homepage

      As I mentioned in a separate post from my cell (which wasn't logged in), this is an almost hidden feature in Mac mail.

      If you try to send an email from one email account (e.g. your "I'm a judge" account), and Mac mail fails to send it through that mail server a certain number of times, it can automatically decide to "help" and send that email through one of your other accounts (e.g. your "I'm also a dad" account or your "I also use iCloud" account). My wife just became a lawyer, and this happened to her a few times. She freaked because she can be dis-barred for that, and when she figured out what was causing it, she had to stop using Mac mail for professional/work emails.

      The only real surprise is that the Mac mail app hasn't been outright banned by all companies everywhere. I know software developers who work on Macs have mentioned having the same problem when I asked about it (which makes it a lot less likely to be user error), and they couldn't find any way to disable this "feature". For the most part, they're stuck with using Outlook for business and Mac mail for personal.

    • by dwye ( 1127395 )

      This has nothing to do with technology. His ruling, which is a public document except in national security cases (even there, maybe, after whatever the wait for Official Secrets document - an American Revolutionary spy was outed in the mid-1960s, so it seems that about 175 years is the current figure) had sensitive information in it, which it shouldn't have had, unless the ruling rendered the "sensitivity" moot.

      This is a judge too careless to understand "sensitive information" is supposed to be bandied abo

      • by dwye ( 1127395 )

        This is a judge too careless to understand "sensitive information" is not supposed to be bandied about in public.

        There. Fixed it for me.

      • This has nothing to do with technology. His ruling, which is a public document

        No. RTFA. This was a family court ruling. Proceedings are public but the specific content of all submissions, evidence and rulings still defaults to private.

        Sounds like the judge needs to take his personal mail accounts off his work computer to avoid this kind of mistake in the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @06:35AM (#54784653)

    This is a Mac mail "feature". My wife is a lawyer, and she's had Mac mail send emails is ng the wrong account. Apparently, it does this automatically if the send fails through the first account you choose. Some of my co-workers have had the same problem, and came to the conclusion that Mac mail should never be used for anything but personal email.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      No it doesn't do it automatically. Your wife is a moron as Mac Mail automatically chooses the right account based on current mailbox selection or previous interaction with the recipients.

      If anything, you can just disable the personal accounts on work computers if sensitivity is an issue because at some point, someone will send an installer to your wife in her personal account and she will open it and install it and type in the admin password and have some malware on it.

      • While I won't disagree with the "your wife is a moron" part, you're still wrong.

        "Mac Mail automatically chooses the right account based on current mailbox selection or previous interaction with the recipients."

        That is true unless Mac Mail tries to send the email from that account multiple times without success. If you're still watching the screen, you will see it up a window to ask if you want to retry with the same account or try sending from a different account, but if you're AFK, if the lid is closed, or

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          I've never seen that happen, if it can't send the e-mail from the address I've tried, it will sit there and wait until I press OK to send with another server (not unique to Mac Mail either, Thunderbird does the same thing).

          Even with a different e-mail server, your From address should stay the same (if you have a proper SMTP server). Eg. when I click "Send with Gmail" it politely refuses because now my From address doesn't match what Gmail SMTP accepts. I know Exchange can silently rewrite addresses on their

          • I've seen it happen with test emails I've tried to send from her Mac. I'm a software developer, so I'm really anal when testing things like this. I made absolutely certain her "@bellsouth.net" account was selected, I double-checked the "From" address in the Outbox after attempting to send it, and when I checked the next morning (with no one touching the Mac overnight), the Sent Items folder showed the "From" address under her "@gsu.edu" account. It doesn't just try a different server, it actually changes th

            • by guruevi ( 827432 )

              As I said, I've only seen it happen where Exchange will rewrite the header when sending through their accounts. Since gsu.edu is handled by Office365, it's very likely that is the culprit. Proper SMTP should refuse to send if the From header isn't allowed to send, Exchange and/or Gmail API will often rewrite the mail on their end, so yes, in your sent folder you'll see the rewritten header because your provider has rewritten the e-mail.

              It's a big issue for me because I have multiple subdomain on one of my O

              • I get what you're saying, but the fault still lies with the mail client. It's not like the server noticed the email stuck in the client's Outbox and said: "Oh, please let me send that for you!" The client had to go out of its way to try sending that email through the GSU server. I get the whole "Neither snow nor rain nor ..." concept the Apple devs were probably aiming for, but it can literally get people fired, so it needs to be a feature you have to consciously enable (not a feature that's automatic and t

  • by outlawuk ( 1224458 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @06:43AM (#54784671)
    The Gov in the UK set up a free email system for lawyers which allows the sending of 'Restricted' level material, which in reality is everything generated in the criminal justice system. In order to defend clients and receive electronic material from the Crown Prosecution Service, or to prosecute as a self-employed independent prosecutor, it is necessary to obtain a secure Gov email address. Not always easy, the system has many issues, is slow and has a tiny mail storage allowance. The significant feature of the system though is that you can ONLY send to or receive from other systems with 'Restricted' (or the newer 'Confidential' level) access. So cjsm.net can contact other CJSM users, police.pnn.uk, any gsi.gov.uk (also gsi-x ) address etc. but you Cannot contact ordinary people. Legal Aid has been removed from many (most) classes of criminal/civil/family hearings, due to cuts, which leads to a truly desparate situation for many, so it is likely that the parties in this case were ordinary unrepresented clients who obviously would not have access to a 'Restricted' level email service. In fact not all lawyers use it either. There is a valid question about security in that anything sent via secure mail is stated to be subject to potential for being read by others. GCHQ? MOJ? Their contractors? Encryption by the user is absolutely forbidden. When I last looked, the webmail encryption was using old/poor quality/deprecated versions. Consequently many private lawyers just refuse to use the Gov email system. The MOJ were encouraging lawyers to use the CJSM system generally for their day to day inter-firm communication, but for this reasons I believe the idea died a quick death. Apart from that security concern, most judgments of the Courts are available to the public in any event, albeit family proceedings with childrens names would not. What I am trying to explain is that the Judge has probably not done anything wrong. Judges do have their own, parallell, 'restricted' email system and I'd be reasonably confident that it works exactly like the cjsm.net system, hence in order to email something to a litigant-in-person, the only way to do it would be via ordinary email. Fax is often no longer an option because of a recent slash-and-burn policy to remove every fax machine in Government existence! Quite crazy reaqlly. I suppose client/litigant consent would be relevant. Did the judge ask if they were content? Judges are often criticised for lack of understanding of the World and lack of diversity and I firmly believe that in some cases the correct applicants are not being appointed, but in this instance I suspect this is an unfair criticism, directed at an easy target that cannot answer back.
    • Nothing wrong? I'll let a judge be the judge of that! (and if we can't find one, then we'll settle for the Daily Mail)

  • evolutionary adds: "The article doesn't specify the tone suggests emails sent were unencrypted."

    Can we have that in English?

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.

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