After more than a year of chatter and investigations, Hillary Clinton has not been charged with any crime in relation to using her private email server for State Department business. But many are left wondering why she did it in the first place, and just why it was a problem. The short answer is that in a quest to avoid scandal, politicians are increasingly turning to private email servers and webmail accounts, and opening the door to a digital security nightmare.
Why Hillary Was Investigated
To some degree, this all could have been avoided if somebody had taken the time to explain basic computer security to Clinton. Clinton, before her appointment to Secretary of State, was using a Blackberry and a private email server to conduct personal business and wanted to keep the convenience of using the solution she’d already had set up. So she did, even though she was warned it wasn’t secure, although she did request the NSA set up a more secure email server, which they denied.
The case came out thanks to a mix of factors, including the famous Texts From Hillary meme, when a government official noticed Clinton should have been proscribed from using a Blackberry during her time at the State Department. But it likely would have broken either way, as emails to Clinton from former aide Sidney Blumenthal were leaked, and suddenly people cared, deeply, about governmental records law.
The problem, though, is that while Clinton’s use of a server is a bit unusual, use of private email accounts is not unusual on both sides of the aisle. Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Kansas governor Sam Brownback, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, and a litany of others, Republicans and Democrats alike, use private email accounts and servers all the time. And they all do it for the same reason they allege Hillary Clinton did: To evade the Freedom of Information Act.