Watchdog group, Judicial Watch is suing the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for communications sent or received by EPA officials who may have used the cell phone encryption application “Signal” to thwart government oversight and transparency.
Via Judicial Watch:
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch today announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for communications sent or received by EPA officials who may have used the cell phone encryption application “Signal” to thwart government oversight and transparency. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. Environmental Protection Agency (No. 1:17-cv-00533)).
- Any and all work-related communications sent to or from the following EPA officials using the app known as “Signal,” for the period February 3, 2016 to the present:
- Administrator (or Acting);
- Deputy Administrator (or Acting);
- Assistant Administrator (or Acting), Office of Air and Radiation;
- Assistant Administrator (or Acting), Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention;
- Assistant Administrator (or Acting), Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance;
- Assistant Administrator (or Acting), Office of Land and Emergency Management;
- Assistant Administrator (or Acting), Office of International and Tribal Affairs; and
- Chief Financial Officer (or Acting).
- Any and all records requesting or approving the use of the messaging app known as “Signal” by any EPA personnel for official business. The time frame for the requested records is July 1, 2014 to the present.
Interestingly, EPA employees began using the ‘Signal’ app shortly after Trump’s inauguration…
The use of Signal by EPA officials to prevent government oversight was reported in a February 2, 2017, Politico article entitled “Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump.” According to the article:
Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology … to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.
Fearing for their jobs, the employees began communicating incognito using the app Signal shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton said the following:
“This new lawsuit could expose how the anti-Trump ‘deep state’ embedded in EPA is working to undermine the rule of law. Let’s hope the Trump administration enforces FOIA and turns over these records. Given EPA’s checkered history on records retention and transparency, it is disturbing to see reports that career civil servants and appointed officials may now be attempting to use high-tech blocking devices to circumvent the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act altogether.”
Read more about the EPA’s employees’ history of failing to preserve records here.
JW Sues EPA Over 3rd Party App Use Against Donald Trump pic.twitter.com/EwuoFbuPA8
— Judicial Watch 🔎 (@JudicialWatch) April 12, 2017