Friday, February 17, 2017
Law - The end of public records, and maybe the end of history?
Adding to these recent stories quoted in a Feb. 2nd ILB post:
- "Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump: Agency employees are turning to Signal and other incognito forms of communication to express their dissent." Politico.
- "Trump aides' use of encrypted messaging may violate records law: Using disappearing messages in government could be a "recipe for corruption," says one expert." ZDNet.
- "The Risks of Sending Secret Messages in the White House: Communication apps with disappearing text could run afoul of presidential records laws—and might not be as secure as they seem. The Atlantic. It begins:
By some accounts, the deluge of leaks detailing the hurdles and setbacks that have troubled the first weeks of the Trump administration have provoked panic among its highest ranks—and prompted top officials to try to identify the leaky staffers. President Trump has tweeted his dismay at the leaks several times, once calling them “illegal.” That’s why, according to a report in The Washington Post, some White House employees have turned to technology to cover their tracks.
The app of choice: Confide, a platform that encrypts messages end-to-end, so that they can only be seen by the sender and the recipient, and deletes every trace of a message as soon as it’s read. (Axios reported last week that Confide has also been taken up in larger Republican circles looking to avoid the fate of Democrats who had their emails hung out to dry by WikiLeaks.)
There are two problems with using Confide to chat with your colleagues in the White House. One has to do with digital security; the other with the law of the land.
- "House members: EPA officials may be using Signal to 'spread their goals covertly': Encrypted messaging app gains new currency under the Trump administration." ArsTechnica. It begins:
Two Republican members of Congress sent a formal letter Tuesday to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, expressing concern that “approximately a dozen career EPA officials” are using the encrypted messaging app Signal to covertly plan strategy and may be running afoul of the Freedom of Information Act.
The open source app has gained renewed interest in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump.
As Ars has reported previously, all Signal messages and voice calls are end-to-end encrypted using the Signal Protocol, which has since been adopted by WhatsApp and other companies. However, unlike other messaging apps, Signal’s maker, Open Whisper Systems, makes a point of not keeping any data, encrypted or otherwise, about its users. (WhatsApp also does not retain chat history but allows for backups using third-party services, like iCloud, which allows for message history to be restored when users set up a new device. Signal does not allow messages to be stored with a third party.)
Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 17, 2017 08:37 AM
Posted to General Law Related