The Clinton campaign has begun using a “Snowden-approved” encrypted messaging app in order to privately discuss Donald Trump.
According to a recent report from Vanity Fair, a person close to the DNC and Clinton campaign states that following the DNC hack staffers were told to use “Signal” when mentioning the Republican nominee.
“In the intervening weeks, staffers were told, according to a person who works with the committee, that if anyone was going to communicate about Donald Trump over e-mail or text message, especially if those missives were even remotely contentious or disparaging, it was imperative that they do so using an application called Signal,” Vanity Fair’s Nick Bolton writes.
Signal, an app for Android and iPhone, is considered by leading security experts, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, to be the gold standard for end-to-end encrypted communications.
“Signal, staffers in the meeting were told, was ‘Snowden-approved,’” Bolton continues. “A week after the meeting at the campaign headquarters, according to two people who have worked with the D.N.C. and the Clinton campaign, an e-mail was sent out instructing staffers where to download the app and how to use it.”
Revelation of the campaign’s decision, and more specifically the mention of Snowden, has drawn criticism given Clinton’s past comments on the whistleblower.
During an October 2015 Democratic debate, Clinton argued that Snowden should be “facing the music” for revealing NSA secrets.
“He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistle-blower,” Clinton argued. “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”
In reality, Snowden, who did raise concerns internally over domestic surveillance, was a contractor for Booze Allen Hamilton, not an official NSA employee, making him ineligible for whistleblower protections.
As noted by the Daily Dot’s Patrick Howell O’Neill, Clinton’s current stance on encryption has been vague at best.
“It’s impossible to know where she stands,” O’Neill writes. “Today she backs a congressional ‘encryption commission’ to examine the question (even though virtually every technologist has already offered an answer).”
“In 2015, Clinton was for a ‘Manhattan-like project’ to break encryption. Further back, in 2011, she was the world’s most vocal and powerful proponent for funding encryption technology development.”
The campaign’s use of Signal will likely become a thorn in Clinton’s side if the former secretary of state comes out against strong encryption protocols in the near future.