How Brexit Was Threatened by a Paper Folder

While the British government are preparing to leave the EU, a lost paper folder caused a security breech that threatened to tear Brexit asunder

This week Brexit is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Minister walk-outs, power clashes and rumours of subterfuge from the conservative party. For the UK government, dissolving their ties with the European Union is a continually fraught time. But for Theresa May’s Europe advisor, Oliver Robbins, perhaps losing a paper folder filled to the brim with top secret emails and power plays, was the worst moment so far.

How Brexit Was Threatened by a Paper Folder

Brexit, Paper files and almost bust 

The Sunday Times revealed recently a major data security breech that had been previously concealed by the British government. Oliver Robbins, the right hand of British Prime Minister Theresa May, left his classified government folder on a train traveling from Brussels to London in May 2017. The folder contained “highly classified cabinet-level briefings” and correspondence with the British Prime Minister on “immigration, customs union and other top-level Brexit-related issues”. The fact that the British government chose to store these extremely sensitive policies in a paper folder was a questionable move for national security.  The folder was later discovered by a retired teacher who found it discarded on a luggage rack on the train.

It was fortunate for the government that the paper folder fell into the right hands and that it was retrieved safely. However, the worst outcome of this incident was certainly the lack of control the British government had in this situation. Paper folders render security and traceability impossible. All it would have taken for this information to be made public (tearing Brexit negotiations asunder at the same time) was a social media minute or a global news bulletin. Instead, this time, they were able to retrieve the document intact.  

governments go digital 

For governments and best practice governance, the logical step for document safety and security means digitization. By using secure exchange software platforms and governance board portals, confidential documents can boast a superior security and usability.

Estonia, for example, has been named ‘the most advanced digital society in the world’ and for good reason. 99% of public services are available to citizens as e-services online 24/7 saving 800 years of working time.In terms of e-governance, Estonia avails of a ‘government cloud’, ‘i-voting’, ‘state e-Services Portal’ and ‘e-Cabinet’. Their e-Cabinet is a paperless governance system which the Estonian government use to stay informed about real time updates and to streamlines its decision-making process. Unlike the British cabinet who still use paper files during briefings, in Estonia, since adopting their paperless ‘e-cabinet’ the government have cut the average weekly meeting from 4/5 hours to 30/90 minutes.

According to the OCED there are many reasons why governments  should embrace an ‘e-government’ , like Estonia, to achieve  more streamlined and efficient government. The same can  be argued for corporate governance..The OCED have championed the use of ICTs and have stated that it is a powerful instrument to transform the structures, process and culture of government and make it more efficient, user-oriented and transparent.

The OCD advocates that ‘e-governance’:  

  • Increases Efficiency

E-government can help improve efficiency by enabling the delivery of services at the convenience of governments and citizens. 

  • Speeds Up Change

E-governments drive change including team work, flexibility and enhanced management practices as a result.

  • Achieves Goals

E-governments can help governments better monitor and achieve targeted goals.

For sceptics of ‘e-governance’ or those who are reluctant to adopt a digital means of data storage, the case of Robbins and the massive security breach that ensued, highlights how necessary it is to retain control of your documents. Paper folders are simply not up to scratch.

governance tools you can trust

If Oliver Robbins had stored his highly classified data using Dili Trust’s Exec Board Portal, his classified data would have remained secure, even when lost. Users of our board portal can effectively manage secure corporate governance via their laptop, computers and tablets for optimum convenience, especially when travelling. The DiliTrust Exec portal boasts an ISO 27001 certification which meets the most stringent international information security standards. The data is not subject to the U.S. Freedom act as our servers are stored in France. What is even more convenient for users is the software’s collaborative aspects; users can create debates, polls and post it notes to other colleagues to highlight important points which are all critical component of meetings. Sensitive documents are accessible to users anywhere and at any time while being highly secure.

To find out more about DiliTrust Exec and how our team can help you to manage your corporate governance contact us today