Parliament’s email system is less secure than Gmail World News
A senior MP says Parliament’s email system is less secure than Google’s Gmail because he claimed to have been a victim of Chinese “psy-ops”.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the government to do more to defend democracy and freedom of expression.
The MP is one of seven British MPs who have been sanctioned by China in retaliation for British actions over human rights violations in Xinjiang Province. You have all talked about the treatment of Uyghurs and Hong Kongers.
“We sanctioned parliamentarians were empowered to proclaim the abuses of this totalitarian government.” pic.twitter.com/WUE9F8dGsz
– Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (@ipacglobal) April 13, 2021
Mr Tugendhat claims he has been attacked by Chinese “psy-ops” – psychological operations – including fake emails announcing his resignation to fellow MPs.
He said, “I’ve been told – not officially, I’ll admit – by friends at GCHQ that I’m better off sticking to Gmail than using the parliamentary system because it’s safer.”
“In all fairness, it shows you the level of security and the priority we are giving to democracy in the UK.”
Parliament officials said Westminster’s email system offered much better protection than outside providers.
The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), whose experts work with the Parliamentary Digital Service, said MPs should continue to rely on it.
An urgent question about China was raised in the House of Commons Tuesday after Mr Tugendhat and four other MPs, two colleagues, a lawyer and an academic were sanctioned in March, including the ban from China and Hong Kong.
Conservative former minister Tim Loughton is one of the MPs and said China’s sanctions are “ridiculous”.
“To be sanctioned by a totalitarian regime is not only deeply ironic and ridiculous, but it is an abuse of parliamentary privilege of this house by a foreign regime,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Nigel Adams, who was not sanctioned, said the government was “in complete solidarity with those sanctioned by China”.
He added that the government will not allow the sanctions to “divert attention from the serious human rights violations” that are taking place in China.
Foreign Ministry shadow minister Stephen Kinnock, however, accused the government of “hypocrisy” and asked why Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab “says one thing in public and differently in private”.
“It is clear that the government has no strategy for China at home and no strategy for China abroad,” he added when calling for a review of “all aspects of Britain-China relations.”
Mr Adams said the “reality” is that Britain has always wanted a “mature, positive relationship with China” based on “mutual respect and trust”.
“There is still considerable room for constructive engagement and collaboration, but we will not sacrifice our values or our security,” he added.
Conservative MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Tugendhat, Tim Loughton and Nusrat Ghani, as well as Baroness Helena Kennedy of Labor, lawyer Geoffrey Nice and academic Jo Smith Finley were sanctioned.