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Editorials

Editorial

Petraeus and Gmail: Tips for the nation’s top spy

The story of General David Petraeus’s fall gets stranger by the day, but one especially surprising detail is the rudimentary way he and Paula Broadwell carried on their secret e-mail conversations. The CIA director and his mistress apparently sent messages by creating a Gmail account under a pseudonym, then leaving notes in a draft folder that either one could read.

The method has been used by teenagers and Al Qaeda operatives, and it raises a number of questions — for instance, why the nation’s top spy didn’t know that Gmail accounts are supremely hackable; or that governments often request private data from e-mail companies; or that it’s easy for law enforcement to gain access to stored e-mails; or that an account, no matter whose name is on it, is traceable via the user’s IP address.

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