Department for Education: Electronic Messaging

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th November 2022.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has shared, sent or received information relating to her Ministerial duties using a personal (a) device, (b) email address, and (c) mobile phone number.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance her Department provides to new Ministers on the use of (a) a personal device, (b) a personal email address and (c) a personal mobile phone number for public business.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his Department's policy is on (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants using (i) SMS, (ii) WhatsApp, (iii) Signal and (iv) other messaging platforms for (A) sending information and (B) holding discussions relating to departmental business.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

There is a place for the use of a variety of digital channels in fast moving modern environments. Ministers will have informal conversations from time to time, in person or remotely, and relevant content from such discussions is passed back to officials. They will also use a variety of digital communications channels for personal, political and Parliamentary matters.

The Cabinet Office has published guidance to Departments on the use of private email that covers how information is held for the purposes of access to information, and how formal decisions are recorded for the official record. This guidance is being updated to reflect changes in technology and ways of working, and will be published by the Cabinet Office in due course.

Ministers receive support and expert advice to help them meet their obligations in the most appropriate and secure fashion. That includes regular security briefings for Ministers, and advice on protecting their personal data and mitigating cyber threats.

The Department has clear policies for the Acceptable Use of IT, Use of Mobile Phones, Data Handling, and Record Management. Only approved and assured systems shall be used for official Departmental data.

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