By: +David Herron; Date: November 20, 2018
What we can do on TechSparx is to discuss the technology of this issue.
With Hillary Clinton, she and Bill Clinton set up a private e-mail server in their house. The server was physically located on their property. Hillary Clinton used that server to conduct business as Secretary of State. I understand that under the prevailing rules at the time she did so, the requirement did not exist for her to use an official State Department email address. Still it would have been better form to do so.
With Ivanka Trump, the rules are well understood now. Official communications are to be done using official email services, and there is a strong requirement for maintaining official records in the national archive. Reportedly, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner set up a private email service using a Microsoft-owned service, and hosted on their own domain name.
It is the same action - the only difference being the location of the server. It does not matter where the server is located, what matters is using a non-official e-mail service to conduct government business.
The problem is not only maintaining official records, and ensuring official records go into the national archive. It also raises the question of whether the Trump's are attempting to hide information from the official records.
Implementation -- what does "private e-mail server" mean?
The news media is tossing around this phrase "private e-mail server" in a way that makes it not clear what they mean.
Several companies have service offerings -- like Google's G Suite -- of a hosted e-mail service. With G Suite, you perform some configuration on the domain so that MX records point to Google's servers. The details are here: https://support.google.com/a/answer/140034?hl=en&ref_topic=7570177
Once you've done that, all e-mail arriving for
firstname.lastname@example.org is handled by Google's email servers, and to read email you log-in to the Gmail UI which knows it is servicing the given domain. I have this set up for several of my domains, and it is excellent.
That's it. There's nothing terribly mysterious about setting up a "private e-mail server" or "private e-mail service". All kinds of companies are doing this exact thing. I have worked for two companies which used G Suite for not only corporate e-mail but also corporate document sharing and calendar sharing and intra-company communications.