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Politicians Crypto, and Strange Unsuccessful Leaks
Trump administration members and other Republicans are using the
encrypted, self-destructing messaging app Confide to keep
conversations private in the wake of hacks and leaks, according to
Jonathan Swan and David McCabe at Axios. Axios writes that "numerous
senior GOP operatives and several members of the Trump administration"
have downloaded Confide, which automatically wipes messages after
they're read. One operative told Axios that the app "provides some
cover" for people in the party. He ties it to last year's hack of the
Democratic National Committee, which led to huge and damaging
information dumps of DNC emails leading up to the 2016 election. But
besides outright hacks, the source also said he liked the fact that
Confide makes it difficult to screenshot messages, because only a few
words are shown at a time. That suggests that it's useful not just for
reducing paper trails, but for stopping insiders from preserving
individual messages -- especially given the steady flow of leaks that
have come out since Trump took office. As Axios notes, official White
House business is subject to preservation rules, although we don't
know much about who's allegedly using Confide and what they're doing
with it, so it's not clear whether this might run afoul of those laws.
It's also difficult to say how much this is a specifically Republican
phenomenon, and how much is a general move toward encryption.
A former National Security Agency contractor was indicted on Wednesday
by a federal grand jury on charges he willfully retained national
defense information, in what U.S. officials have said may have been
the largest heist of classified government information in history. The
indictment alleges that Harold Thomas Martin, 52, spent up to 20 years
stealing highly sensitive government material from the U.S.
intelligence community related to national defense, collecting a trove
of secrets he hoarded at his home in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The
government has not said what, if anything, Martin did with the stolen
data. Martin faces 20 criminal counts, each punishable by up to 10
years in prison, the Justice Department said. "For as long as two
decades, Harold Martin flagrantly abused the trust placed in him by
the government," said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.