Australian government Slacks off in cabinet

It's got emoji and what else do you need when you're running a country?

Australia's fully-mobile-enabled BYOD prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly working hard to keep discussions between members of Cabinet out of the reach of the country's data retention regime.

Turnbull, whose tech credentials include running his own Hillary-Clinton-style e-mail server and using the encrypted communications application Wickr, is also pushing for members of his Cabinet to use Slack.

Slack is yet another encrypted team-communications app that hosts its data on Amazon Web Services. It works on a message board model and lets users link each other to content and images from other services (like Twitter, Skype, and Google Drive).

A couple of unnamed cabinet members have told The Australian (may be paywalled) the PM made the suggestion to Slack off in his first cabinet meeting after assuming the leadership.

There's no reason to believe that rather than leaking, the ministers were asking The Oz "what on Earth is Slack?"

However, there are snags: whatever platform the cabinet uses, communications and documents associated with ministerial duties have to be both retained and accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

In March 2015, Slack told users to enable two-factor authentication after outsiders breached its user database. At the time, the company said user messages and payment information remained secure.

A spokes-human in the PM's office told The Australian Turnbull was taking advice from the Australian Signals Directorate about the use of tools like Slack.

Given that the process of government procurement can take years, it's not surprising that the Agility Prime Minister would prefer adoption-by-fiat. Otherwise, there's a significant risk that some current favourite tool might cease to exist before it's rolled out in Canberra. ®

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