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Council's IT policy smacks of Big Brother

Proposals to introduce an IT policy for elected members in RCT Council have met with anger from opposition Councillors. The policy allows for the Council to access Councillors emails and personal files and check web sites they visit.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell says the policy "smacks of a Big Brother mentality" and questions whether it breaches data protection laws.

The policy proposes that

  • The Council reserves the right to examine any personal files stored on the Council's systems, this includes the contents of any files, Email or other electronic communications sent to the user. Council systems are primarily for the storage of work related material.
  • The ICT Service will produce reports monthly, detailing the Internet pages users have accessed and these can be provided to Service Directors \ Head of Service for review for both statistical purposes and to ensure compliance with this policy.

It also states

  • All communications and stored information sent, received, created or contained within the Councils ICT systems are the property of the Council and accordingly should not be considered as private.

Cllr Powell said

"I am sure residents contacting their Councillors would be dismayed to know that their communication was not considered as private. Just who is going to "check" these emails and what are they checking for? This appears to be a gross breach of data protection. This to 'protect the Council's interest' but what about the people who are supposed to be served by the Council?

"I consider that any files sent to me in my capacity as a Councillor are personal. The people of my ward and indeed the wider area email me to what they believe is a confidential address not one which can be randomly accessed by a Council employee.

"I certainly am not prepared to sign up to a policy that gives carte blanche to un-named people acting for "the Council" to spy on what should be private correspondence between residents and myself. I am elected to represent the people not the Council."