Court IT Security Head Under Fire for Sending Unrestrained E-mail to Pres. Dorit Beinisch

A disciplinary complaint alleging insubordination and abuse of security guards has been filed by the courts administration against the person in charge of information technology security for the courts.

The complaint against Haim Fox stems, among other things, from him sending Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch a sharply worded e-mail complaining about the cost of upgrades to the information security server, though he had not been specifically authorized to look into those costs. As a result the complaint against him alleges that he engaged in "conduct unbecoming of someone in a position civil servant, which is liable to harm the image or good name of the civil service."

The complaint states that last year Beinisch asked the security division of the courts to implement use of hand-held Blackberry devices for Israel's court presidents, but asked that a secure server be installed to prevent access to sensitive information by others. Ultimately the court administration decided not to provide the devices due to concerns over security and cost.

Fox allegedly looked into implementing use of the hand-held computers without advising his superiors that he was doing so.

In August of last year, Fox allegedly sent an e-mail to Beinisch, with copies to a number of court administration staff members, complaining that the matter was entrusted to the court's security division, contending that such a subject is the responsibility of the information technology division. Fox wrote that installation of a secure server for the Blackberries would cost $2,000 in addition to a monthly fee of $200 for a single device. Ultimately Beinisch decided not to use Blackberries and arranged for court presidents to get another kind of device.

In the complaint against Fox, it was alleged that he contacted Beinisch directly without advising his superiors and without getting the approval of anyone in the court administration. In addition, the complaint included accusations behaved roughly toward court security personnel precisely at a time when the court is attempting to address the problem of physical and verbal violence against judges.

In one alleged incident in 2008, he reportedly was asked for identification by a security guard at a checkpoint at a courthouse in Netanya and provided a temporary ID card. When he was asked for a card with more details, Fox is accused of swearing at the guards. When he was allegedly warned that a police patrol would be called, he reportedly remained unruly and had to be restrained.

In response to the controversy over the Blackberry devices, Fox said: "It is my right and duty to intervene with regard to anything having to do with information security and I did it with a clear conscience, without receiving any benefit. There is no disciplinary violation here."

He said some of the allegations in the complaint are inaccurate and are even lies. With regard to his conduct with the security guards, he said the guard assaulted him and that he filed a complaint with the police.

The court administration said in response: "There is no dispute. The matters are serious and therefore a complaint was filed with the Civil Service Commission."