Chaffetz, Cummings question WH on digital records

Chaffetz, Cummings question WH on digital records
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The leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday raised concerns that President Trump may be violating federal law by deleting his tweets.

In a letter addressed to White House counsel Donald McGahn, committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Finance: Trump pitches massive tax cuts | Freedom Caucus endorses plan | Dems slam framework | House GOP to move B border wall bill | Officials under fire for private jet use GOP lawmaker pushes to end sports leagues' tax-exempt status Republicans predict Senate ObamaCare repeal would pass House MORE (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) expressed concern over the White House’s digital record-keeping practices.

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“Many of the messages sent from [Trump’s] Twitter account are likely to be presidential records and therefore must be preserved,” the two wrote. “It has been reported, however, that president Trump has deleted tweets, and if those tweets were not archived it could pose a violation of the Presidential Records Act.”

Trump’s penchant for deleting tweets has caused consternation among archivists, with some questioning its legality.

Chaffetz and Cummings also noted their unease with encrypted apps White House staffers have been using, which the lawmakers believe may pose a risk to record keeping and transparency.

“Recent news reports suggest federal employees may increasingly be turning to new forms of electronic communication, including encrypted messaging applications like Signal, Confide and WhatsApp that could result in the creation of presidential or federal records that would be unlikely or impossible to preserve,” the letter read.

The two noted the risk that undetermined security of the apps posed, citing a BuzzFeed article which quoted security experts who criticized Confide’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

“It always worries me when someone starts by saying they use ‘military-grade encryption.’ That immediately makes me start to look for the snake oil,” Alan Woodward, a professor at the University of Surrey told CyberScoop. “It sounds like sales puff over substance.”

Woodward criticized Confide's reliance the software library Open SSL. Certain versions of the library are vulnerable to malware.

In their letter, the lawmakers put forward a set of requests to clarify the White House’s potential violations of the Presidential Records Acts, including a list of senior officials who have used alias email accounts since starting work in the White House, and details on training White House personnel may have received in regard to the Presidential Records Act.