Spicer Grills Staffers On Leaks, Orders Phone Search & Bans Encryption Apps — Report
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has reportedly gone on a crusade against unauthorized sharing of information on his own turf, ordering extensive phone checks and urging staffers against using encrypted-messaging apps.
The official sprung into decisive action last week, after it emerged that information discussed at one of the planning meetings with employees of the White House Office of Communications had been leaked to the media, Politico reported, citing sources present at the meeting.
According to the outlet, in an effort to find the source of the leaks, which cast the Donald Trump administration in an unfavorable light in the media, Spicer ordered about a dozen of the staffers called to the gathering to hand over their personal mobile phones as well as those provided by the government for a “check.”
Spicer also instructed them against using apps, allowing encryption of the messages, specifically mentioning Confide and Signal, an official with the knowledge of the matter is being quoted by Politico as saying. Confide enables its users to send encrypted messages that instantly “self-destruct” and Signal employs end-to-end encryption of photos and text messages.
Justifying the restrictions, Spicer apparently said that the use of these and similar mobile features will constitute a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
Among the recent leaks that has drawn the particular ire of the White House press secretary, according to Politico sources, was a report of Michael Dubke’s appointment as the White House communications director, which came out before the official announcement. Dubke replaced Spicer himself, who was reportedly finding it hard to reconcile his duties as presidential press secretary and communications chief.