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Photo via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom said sharing passwords with their staff—including interns in exchange programs—is common practice. The casual admittance of the practice has many U.K. citizens concerned about cybersecurity.
Nadine Dorries, a member of Parliament from Bedfordshire, first announced she shares her passwords with her staff on Saturday in an effort to defend First Secretary of State Damian Green, who has been accused of having porn on his computer. He denies watching or downloading porn, according to the BBC.
“My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday,” she tweeted. “Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous.”
My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous !!— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 2, 2017
After many users on Twitter responded to Dorries’ tweet with concern about Parliament’s cybersecurity policies, she defended her initial tweet and said it’s OK that her staff can access her private computer because she doesn’t receive government documents.
All my staff have my login details. A frequent shout when I manage to sit at my desk myself is, ‘what is the password?’— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 2, 2017
I’m not the Gov. I’m an MP with a computer in a shared office upon which lives an email account. That’s as exciting as my computer gets— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 3, 2017
I’m sure if the computers of all MPs - including Labour ones, were investigated there would be a record of porn being accessed. There would, in all cases, be zero proof of who it was who accessed it.— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 2, 2017
Dorries wasn’t the only member of Parliament to admit that staff uses the same login credentials as the bosses. Even former staff members confirmed it.
No idea if Green watched porn or not. But argument put forward by police that because he was logged on when it was downloaded he is ‘guilty’ is risible.— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) December 2, 2017
When I worked as MP’s researcher I used boss’s computer logged in his name all day while he was out at meetings etc.
I certainly do. In fact I often forget my password and have to ask my staff what it is.— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) December 3, 2017
Less login sharing and more that I leave my machine unlocked so they can use it if needs be. My office manager does know my login though. Ultimately I trust my team.— Will Quince MP (@willquince) December 3, 2017
Dorries and her colleagues seem unaware that it’s possible for staffers to have their own login information to access a computer and also still have the ability to log in to the same email. Some individuals on Twitter pointed out that sharing computer login information with staff might be breaking House of Commons IT policies. Others shared tips for best practices.
They need their own logins for traceability, data protection, security & more. The set up you describe is a shambles that you should be ashamed of and must fix ASAP— FXFollower (@FollowingFX) December 2, 2017
We’re aware of reports that MPs share logins and passwords and are making enquiries of the relevant parliamentary authorities. We would remind MPs and others of their obligations under the Data Protection Act to keep personal data secure. https://t.co/FLPeP8M7c8— ICO (@ICOnews) December 4, 2017
Looks like British politicians could learn a thing or two about cybersecurity.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.