The Defense Department told staffers that personal email is never to be used to pass classified information.
The Defense Department told staffers that personal email is never to be used to pass classified information.

Warning that the use of “non-official messaging accounts” is illegal and runs counter to the Department of Defense's (DoD's) official policy, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan instructed agency employees to use their government email accounts for government business.

“I expect leaders at every level within the Department to set a personal example and to ensure that those they lead uphold these responsibilities,” he said in a memo aimed at civilian and military employees and obtained by the Washington Examiner. “We must be vigilant to protect DoD information and ensure the transparency that the law requires.”

Personal or other non-official email accounts” can only be used to conduct official government business - though never classified information – “in those rare and extraordinary situations where an official email capability is not available,” Shanahan wrote, noting that under those circumstances “the DoD official shall copy his official email account at the time of sending or forward the message to his official account within 20 days of sending the email.”

After a series of leaks and other policy-bending behavior, the federal government has begun cracking down on the use of personal email and mobile devices. Earlier in the month the White House finally made good on its 2017 promise to ban staffers from using their personal cellphones in the West Wing.