US Deputy CTO Gets Slapped On Wrist For Using Google Buzz

US Deputy CTO Gets Slapped On Wrist For Using Google Buzz

The Deputy US CTO Andrew McLaughlin has been served with an official reprimand from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for breaching certain communications guidelines.

According to the Presidential Records Act, any communications sent on behalf of the President need be stored for possible later retreival. Mr. McLaughlin broke that rule by using his personal Gmail account for business purposes.  You can hardly blame him, Andrew used to work for Google as the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs; he has been living in Gmail since it came out.

Even more, Andrew had the flagrant audacity to use Google Buzz to stay in contact with old pals at Google. Both actions, Buzz and Gmail, were found to be in breach of the Records Act, making Andrew McLaughlin something of a communications outlaw, if the term can be used so mildly.

Why was his use of Buzz in breach of the Records Act? As it turns out, some of his Buzz discussions were ancillary to his role as Deputy CTO. He had previously pledged to not discuss work matters with anyone at Google to prevent possible conflicts of interest.

The two actions combined were enough to warrant the formal reprimand. You can follow Andrew on Twitter here.

While this is an embarrassment, it is hardly worthy of concern. Andrew on a few isolated occurrences forgot to forward emails concerning work from his personal account to the White House for archiving, and his Buzz conversations were nothing that would ever fill a gossip rag.

Indeed this is an example of new digital technologies blurring lines that were once much sturdier. The reprimand is no more than a light wrist-tap. Mr. McLaughlin will keep his job, and deserves too. We are all learning how to appropriately disclose and archive digital information. While smarter than most, Andrew can hardly be expected to be perfect.

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