Turnbull: Don't assume government email is more secure than private email

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded to concerns over the use of his own private email server by saying politicians use insecure communication all the time.

Concerns over Malcolm Turnbull using his own private email server have been rebuked by the Australian Prime Minister, who said that all parliamentarians use insecure communication methods all the time, most notably, SMS messaging.

"Classified information can only be exchanged through government systems," Turnbull said in a Friday press conference. "Obviously, all members and senators, and ministers, use non-government forms of communication ... for matters that are not classified, that are routine and non-sensitive."

"If you have a talk about the security of different forms of communication, firstly, you shouldn't assume that government email services are more secure than private ones.

"Secondly, I can tell you that text messaging, which is widely used, is the least secure form of communication -- it's unencrypted in transit, and it is unencrypted at rest."

According to The Australian, Turnbull has been using a private server to conduct government business, as well as email parliamentarians and the media.

Turnbull dismissed concerns of using non-government email, saying that he does not use such services to deal with classified information.

"Classified information cannot be transmitted to, or transmitted from, anything other than a government system that is certified," he said. "I can't do it, and I wouldn't do it."

"To suggest that every communication by a politician ... can only be transmitted on a government email account, or to a government email account, would mean you could never write an email to a constituent, it would mean you could never use SMS."

The Prime Minister said he would continue to use his email service.

"I don't claim to be an expert in this area, but it is not an unknown area to me, I'm pretty familiar with the different forms of data security and the challenges," Turnbull said. "I stay very closely in touch with our experts, such as the Australian Signals Directorate, and I take care about this, and I look forward to improving levels of government security wherever we can."

"I can assure you security of telecommunications, security of government data is a very high priority for me, as it is for all of our ministers and assistant ministers."

Australian Labor leader, Bill Shorten, said the matter was a serious issue and called for Turnbull to quickly explain himself.

"It's important for the Prime Minister to release that he's the same as everyone else," he said. "The same rules apply to all of us ... this is a bit of a test for him."

"You want to make sure that when you're in government the public are able to see your communications through the freedom of information which are designed to provide public accountability for the actions of the government, that that's not being inadvertently circumvented.

"We don't want Australia's classified information to be more easily hacked by people who would do Australia harm."

Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, continues to face similar concerns in the United States, after it was revealed the Clinton family were using a private email server in their home while she was US Secretary of State.

Clinton eventually turned over 32,000 email messages from the server to the State Department and deleted another 30,000 messages that were personal in nature.

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