• Steve Cullen

Encrypted email and Birmingham City Council

Over the last few months I have encountered more and more schools that have been frustrated by Birmingham City Council staff saying they can no longer access emails using Egress encryption or open password-protected MS Office documents. This has caused considerable frustration and a number of schools have had long-winded dialogues without really being able to resolve the issue.

Well, I have to applaud Margaret Tweed from Somerville Primary School who has made a breakthrough!

She has managed to obtain the following confirmation from Rakesh Gordhan at the council. He had spoken with Malkiat Thiarai, the local authority's Head of Data Protection, about the issues schools are having sending encrypted emails to BCC.

He confirmed that BCC staff should not be telling schools how to send emails to them and that the council cannot tell schools how to protect their data. There has been a policy decision within BCC that when they send emails to schools and other government departments, TLS has been enabled on BCC’s side. The decision was not communicated to schools as they each have their own policies and procedures in place.

If you are sending emails to a BCC email team postbox using OME (the encryption in Outlook where the recipient uses a one time password) it will not work. You can only use this encryption if sending to an individual’s email address, therefore if you are able to get an individual’s email address instead of sending to a postbox, you will then be able to encrypt.

I hope this clarification will assist other schools and would like to thank Sarah Shaw from Bartley Green School as well as Margaret for their efforts in obtaining this clarification!

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