Federal workers using encryption to talk Trump


    It’s hard to believe we’re only three weeks into the Trump presidency but here we are. Yet for all the frenzy surrounding the new administration, federal workers in the agencies potentially set to get overhauled express they’re mostly in the dark about what could be coming next. With so much uncertainty, employees have taken to encrypting and securing their internal communications when they speak about Trump’s administration, reports Politico.

    Across agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Foreign Service, and parts of the Labor Department, employees are relying on encrypted messaging services to protect their communications in the event they’re monitored. Some are also resorting to good old fashioned face-to-face conversations.

    A small group of employees at the EPA have taken to using the app Signal to discuss what to do in case Trump’s appointees undermine the agency’s work, break the law, or delete important scientific data.

    Messages in Signal are encrypted end-to-end, which means only you and recipient will see the contents of the message. And while traditional texts let carriers track metadata like the message’s sender and recipients, they won’t be able to gather this information for any messages sent over Signal. This is important because background information about who you’re talking to and when could be used as incriminating evidence in the future.

    “I have no idea where this is going to go. I think we’re all just taking it one day at a time and respond in a way that seems appropriate and right,” one employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Politico.

    And over at the Labor Department, Politico writes that employees are using private email accounts to share a letter imploring senators to oppose Andrew Puzder to head their department. Opponents question whether the fast-food mogul is fit to head the Labor Department given his history of working against the interest of organized labor. Department employees can sign the letter using Google Docs and it won’t be submitted to the Senate HELP Committee until 200 employees sign.

    Historically, it’s been typical and expected for the incoming administration to name new people into leadership positions at various federal agencies. But the bureaucrats below usually stay put as these positions are looked at as non-partisan career roles. This time around, with whole agencies seemingly in peril of being dismantled, workers at all levels are feeling the uncertainty. And it’s a depressing reality we live in that they feel safest keeping their conversations about it hidden.

    Kelly Paik
    Kelly Paik writes about science and technology for Fanvive. When she's not catching up on the latest innovations, she uses her free-time painting and roaming to places with languages she can't speak. Because she rather enjoys fumbling through cities and picking things on the menu through a process of eeny meeny miny moe.