Sen. Perdue Files ‘SOS Act’ To Ban State Employees from Using Private Email for Public Duties

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the 95th Representative Assembly of the National Education Association July 5, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Capitol Hill

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations State Department and USAID Management Subcommittee is proposing legislation to explicitly forbid State Department employees from using personal email accounts for their official work for the department.

“There are serious and systemic security management problems at the State Department that span the tenure of several Secretaries,” said Sen. David Perdue (R.-Ga.), who filed the Securing our Secrets Act of 2016 to make it clear to State Department employees they can never use private email accounts and servers to handle sensitive and classified information.

“Most recently during Hillary Clinton’s tenure, these security weaknesses were amplified by the use of private email servers and non-governmental email accounts,” he said. Clinton is poised to become the Democratic nominee for president.

FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., said in his July 5 announcement that he recommended to Department of Justice prosecutors that they do not charge Clinton, yet the director said her private emails were a serious vulnerability. “We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account.”

Comey added:

We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

The FBI director also said that in general he found the State Department’s handling of classified information uneven and often lax.

The SOS Act would put the Office of the State Department Inspector General in-charge of ensuring that the department’s emails are secure and that the law is followed.

The act also requires the department’s to conduct regular audits of emails to detect spillage of classified information through electronic correspondence, upgrade information security training for State employees and produce an annual report to Congress all security violations and the department’s response to security violations.