ICAC hones in on private email accounts - again

Editor’s Note: SA integrity laws were amended in October 2021, which has changed reporting obligations for Public Officers. Further information

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has again cautioned public officers about using private email accounts for business purposes in his latest annual report (2017/18).

There is nothing wrong with private email accounts in and of themselves, but the Commissioner’s point is that they are not an appropriate medium for official business transactions and records. Persistent use of private emails, or other unauthorised messaging platforms, for business purposes increases the risk that you are breaching the State Records Act 1997.

Penalties up to $10,000 or imprisonment for 2 years can be imposed on individuals for mishandling official records.

The Commissioner was particularly concerned that some public officers may use private emails to evade obligations that apply to public agencies, including the University, under the Freedom of Information Act 1991. If this is the intent, then the Commissioner warns that the activity could amount to misconduct, maladministration or corruption and be subject to investigation.

Better to ensure that your private email account stays that way.

When you are doing business in your capacity as a public officer (that includes all University personnel), ensure that your communications are conducted transparently through official University systems, and recorded as required by the University Information Management Policy and the State Records Act.

Some issues which may arise (even unknowingly) from use of personal email accounts are discussed in our previous blog articles Why the medium for your message always counts and The FYI of FOI.

For more information contact University Archives & Recordkeeping for expertise and advice about compliant recordkeeping standards across the University.

Tagged in legal alerts, news & announcements, communications, ICAC, integrity, public officer, records management