An email

This evening I received a highly significant email. It’s from National Archives with which I’m doing some minor business. I have no idea what it means, but I figure it could be of considerable use to someone. If that person is you, I commend it to you. It’s certainly a relief to be protected from potential evildoers with such relentless focus and determination. Please do not comment on this thread or your computer may blow up – well it probably won’t but you will not be able to benefit from Troppo’s standard insurance for exploding laptops – for reasons that I hope are obvious:

An email sent by you to ‘[email protected]’ with the subject ‘Accepted: Digital Excellence Awards Judges teleconference [SEC=UNCL… @ Thu 6 Apr 2017 15:00 – 16:30 (AEST) (Anne Lyons)’ had a protective marking that cannot be received.

The National Archives of Australia can only receive emails from non-Fedlink senders where there is either No Protective Marking or one of the following markings only:


Note: Emails with markings of type [DLM=…. can only be received from Fedlink senders.

These rules are set by the Australian Government and we cannot make exceptions.

Do not reply as this email address is not monitored.

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6 Responses to An email

  1. Phil Clark says:

    It’s fairly benign in this and most situations and standard for Australian Goverment agencies based on the Email Protective Marking Standard for the Australian Government since around 2012 but not brought into full effect until around 2014 or their abouts. It’s actually a clever system as it’s not an easy task to secure email based on the standards referred to as RFC’s or Requests For Comments that dicatate email format and delivery in particular RFC822 and RFC2234. The system is passive in that it only controls the in and out of the emails, apart from a significant number of electrons being inconvenienced it’s a safe system for the end user.

    • Right, but since the net result is to make it so that external people can’t accept calendar invites sent by the NAA, it’s hardly a net positive in terms of productivity :-/

      Once again, an objectively worse result from having technology applied little contextual consideration.

      • Philip Clark says:

        Your right Stephen and I sympathise with you on a number of levels as I do with Nicholas though I prefer to think of Government IT as bureaucrats in charge of IT rather than IT bureaucrats the difference being that an individual who often has little to no hands on IT background is tasked with making something compliant as opposed to productive which is counter intuitive to the poor souls who design and implement these systems. Its a brave new world and the days when engineers were free to just make things work are gone as is the plain and consistent dialogue that once existed between the provider and the consumer but please take some solace in that your view is not uncommon or unrecognised its just that its not as profitable as the convoluted proprietary “IT gibberish” used to gain lucrative contracts while meeting the creative needs of their customers.

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    My purpose in posting this email was that a pet hate of mine is bureaucrats – in this case IT bureaucrats – giving precisely zero consideration to what it’s like for people outside their system. In this case they had to draft an email for some bewildered outsider who can’t be presumed to know anything much. But somehow they can be presumed to know what “non-Fedlink senders” are. It made me chuckle. If I’d been relying on them though I wouldn’t have been chuckling.

  3. derrida derider says:

    Oh, if anything its worse for we bureaucrats inside the system. We are forced to master the IT gibberish to use the system. Believe it or not I can now translate that message.

    And appallingly bad error messages aside (even Microsoft does better than this one), Stephen is right that Fedlink and its associated stuff often makes simple tasks hard. It is the classic sort of problem you get when centralising functions across agencies with very different needs (security needs in this case), all in the chase for (almost always illusory) savings from ‘one size fits all’ approaches.

  4. Phil Clark says:

    Just my opinion but related to the post is the elephant in the room. To me it’s plain that the politicization of essential infrastructure services such as Telecommunications, power and water have created huge waist and a mess of failed outsourcing projects and services, in particular the NBN. It was a mistake to deregulate the Telecommunications industry in the way we did and the NBN should have resolved that if not for political parties putting their own interests ahead of the nations. In kind it would not be an unreasonable guess that collectively billions have been wasted at all three levels of government in an attempt to “Outsource” their responsibilities to the IT Industry who are more than willing to play the game and reap the profit. Ridiculous amounts are paid to “Consultants” to produce vendor bias recommendations due to the inability of the bureaucrats to come to terms with problems which in many cases are very simple but wrapped in, as Derrida very aptly describes, IT gibberish. 20 years ago when pre-sales technical support positions started to appear we at the coal face of IT, Geeks if you like, would jokingly refer to engineers in these positions as having been turned to the dark side for the way they would present products and services like dressing up mutton for very expensive lamb. For in house IT shops this was not an issue as much as a nuisance but some of the ridiculous projects I have seen pass through government agencies boarder on criminal incompetence for the bureaucrats involved. Responsibility needs to be accepted by the all levels of Government and the civil service for their inability meet their responsibility in the use of technology to improve public services at a decreased cost instead of hiding behind the very bureaucracies that created the problem in the first place.

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