Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials ‘Go Dark’

Paper by Daxton Stewart: “In the early weeks of the new presidential administration, White House staffers were communicating among themselves and leaking to journalists using apps such as Signal and Confide, which allow users to encrypt messages or to make them vanish after being received. By using these apps, government officials are “going dark” by avoiding detection of their communications in a way that undercuts freedom of information laws. In this paper, the author explores the challenges presented by encrypted and ephemeral messaging apps when used by government employees, examining three policy approaches – banning use of the apps, enhancing existing archiving and record-keeping practices, or legislatively expanding quasi-government body definitions – as potential ways to manage the threat to open records laws these “killer apps” present….(More)”.