Members of government can no longer delete text messages

New guidelines from the Justice Ministry have been set in place following the Mink Commission’s investigation.

Government officials and ministers are no longer allowed to delete work-related text messages due to new measures put in place by the Justice Ministry.

During the Mink Commission’s investigation into the illegally-ordered culling of 17 million Danish mink in 2020, it was discovered that the PM and three high-ranking officials had their text messages automatically set to delete. This meant that some correspondences from the days surrounding the order to cull the mink have been lost.

Guidelines necessary
“The Mink Commission’s approach to text messages has created a need for clear guidelines for storing work-related text messages,” said the justice minister, Mattias Tesfaye.

The commission’s investigation further revealed that the government does not guarantee the preservation of text messages as it does for emails.

“Unlike emails, the storage of SMS messages does not today take place centrally and independently of the individual user, but Statens IT is investigating the possibilities of developing such a solution,” said Tesfaye.

Until then, the Justice Ministry’s guidelines force ministers, department heads and advisors to store copies of their text messages, even if they change phones or resign. Ministries must comply with the measures by October 1.

The PM’s reasoning
PM Mette Frederiksen said at the end of last year that it was her department head, Barbara Bertelsen, who advised her to automatically delete her text messages.

Bertelsen defended her actions by stating that automatic deletion helps to ensure security in the event of a phone being lost.

Despite their best efforts, the Defense Intelligence Service and National Police were unable to recover the text messages that were lost as a result of Bertelsen’s advice.