Hacking into Sarah Palin’s Email: A Low Blow, the Official Business Issue, and the Motivation Behind the Attack

Hacking into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account was a low blow:

Hackers broke into the Yahoo! e-mail account that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin used for official business as Alaska’s governor, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate.

“This is a shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them,” the McCain campaign said in a statement.

But now we have those who say it was legitimate because she used her Yahoo account for official state business. This, of course, is absurd. I don’t know Alaskan law on the subject, but having served on official business for the State of Tennessee (a state with a very broad open meetings law) in a search for a school superintendent, I can say the following:

  1. Email isn’t a very private method of communication from a security standpoint. In addition to the internet security issue, both can be subpoenaed like any other form of documentation in an investigation, civil or criminal.
  2. The idea that the state’s email security is inherently superior to Yahoo’s may or may not be true. Government servers can be very secure or insecure, depending upon how they’re set up. Good hackers could have probably gotten into her official account if they set their efforts towards that. Face it: they hack into DoD servers, why not the State of Alaska?
  3. Working on committee for the State of Tennessee/Hamilton County Department of Education, we were not furnished state or HCDE email accounts. We were expected to use our own. We were asked for our email addresses up front. The open meetings law (and any other applicable statutes to our work) applied to communications with our own email accounts. I set up a special account for the work but only to cut down on spam.

Email’s limited security notwithstanding, hacking her account–personal or government–is indefensible. Given “Anonymous'” (the people who launched the attack) and its allies’ history vis a vis the Scientologists, I suspect this attack is against her Pentecostal religion.

And I’ll bet that John McCain is glad he doesn’t do email…

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