Senate staffers are now allowed to send texts via Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app favored by privacy advocates.
The Signal announcement wasn’t so much an announcement as it was slipped into a letter about a different type of digital security.
Sen. Ron Wyden wrote a note to Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank Larkin, dated May 9, congratulating Larkin on the Senate’s transition to “HTTPS encryption for all Member and Committee websites.” The note goes on to talk about how Wyden was the first senator to switch his site from the less secure HTTP, before concluding with a bit about Signal.
“With the transition to default HTTPS for all of the other Senate websites and the recent announcement by your office that the end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal is approved for Senate staff use, I am happy to see that you too recognize the important defensive cybersecurity role that encryption can play,” Wyden wrote in the letter.
@agcrocker This letter is interesting. Did SSA announce the Signal thing? If not, I guess this is Wyden’s way of getting it out in public?
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) May 16, 2017
Wyden’s reason for including the Signal announcement in this letter are unclear, but in an age of leaks, this gives Senate staffers a clear way to send information that would be difficult to trace.
Of course, if the Senate passes legislation that would order tech companies to help law enforcement access encrypted information (how that would happen isn’t quite clear), they would in effect undermine their staffers’s use of Signal.
This anti-encryption bill would effectively outlaw tech that Americans use to protect themselves.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 13, 2016
Wyden, by the way, was against the bill. And it looks like he’s pretty excited about Signal, too.