White House Use of Secret Messaging Apps Challenged in Court

The latest lawsuit filed against the embattled Trump administration deals with encryption messaging apps. According to a recent report published by Newsweek and the Daily Beast, the civil lawsuit against the White House was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and it involves the use of mobile apps such as Confide and Signal.

The basis of the lawsuit is that the anonymous nature of the communications created by the aforementioned apps, coupled with the functionality to delete messages forever, is in contravention to the Presidential Records Act since such records should be archived and made public at some point.

Personal information has become the most valuable digital asset in the life of any individual. A few years ago, the revelations about massive internet surveillance operations conducted by the United States National Security Agency forever changed the concept of privacy and the flawed principle of thinking “I have nothing to hide.”

Individuals may feel that they have nothing to hide from the NSA, but life seems to have already gone past that point. Unfortunately, the surveillance tools used by the NSA and by the CIA are now in the hands of malicious hackers and cybercrime groups that wish to intercept your information for nefarious purposes.

Since the summer of 2016, a shadowy group known as the Shadow Brokers have been engaged in a dangerous campaign to embarrass the American intelligence apparatus. The group is believed to be associated with the Kremlin, and it may have passed on highly classified information to the controversial WikiLeaks publishing platform about the CIA.

The bottom line is that quite a few of the tools and exploits that the CIA and NSA use to spy on everyone around the world are being used by the Shadow Brokers as well as many other cybercrime outfits.

Encrypted text messaging apps surged in the wake of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal. Major tech companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft started to encrypt the communications of internet to thwart the NSA efforts of global snooping. Once malicious hackers started learning about the techniques used by the NSA, their first thought was: “I can do this. I should have thought of it first!”

What is interesting about the current lawsuit against the White House is that President Trump initially banned the use of certain messaging apps among his staff due to the free flow of leaks finding their way to news journalists. It is ironic that those apps were replaced by others that provide even more secrecy and plausible deniability.

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Dil Bole Oberoi