Australian government bans free email services over security concerns

The Australian government has announced it will block free Web-based email services like Gmail and Hotmail due to security concerns, according to the Australian website iTnews.

The move comes in response to a security audit that found staff in the Prime Minister and Cabinet department were allowed to access the unsecured email services for business reasons. The auditor said the public email systems provide a point of entry for hackers and could lead to information disclosure.

Previously many public messaging and social media sites were inaccessible to many executive branch staff members in the U.S., mainly due to security concerns.

Those rules have been eased in the past year as more Obama administration officials have taken to Twitter and social media as part of their outreach efforts.

Both the Obama and Bush administrations have dealt with reports of staff members using personal email accounts via smartphones for official business, with critics accusing them of doing so to evade the Presidential Records Act.