News / Beyond Signal: How Trump staffers could encrypt and archive
Jun 28, 2017

Confide, one of the encrypted messaging apps allegedly used by the Trump administration to hide its communications from Presidential archives, hides the text of messages until the user swipes over it. Photo by Seth Rosenblatt/The Parallax

Members of the Executive Office of the President, perhaps responding to internal calls for buttoned-up communications, have apparently been using increasingly popular consumer encrypted-messaging apps to chat with one another. In doing so, they have opened a whole other can of worms.

The nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for violating the Presidential Records Act. It alleges that members of the Trump administration are ignoring the record-keeping law by using messaging apps that provide end-to-end encryption, such as Signal and Confide, but that don’t provide the required communications archiving.

“The problem here is that people are setting up their own IT shops and making their own decisions about which apps to use in a government environment.”—Anurag Lal, CEO, NetSfere

Messages sent via these consumer encrypted-messaging apps are inaccessible to official federal archives, according to the suit, because they exist only on the devices of Trump administration officials, from which they can be set to automatically and irretrievably deleted.


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