Skubick: Michigan State Police face scrutiny for use of encrypted texting app

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer says there are “legitimate” concerns over the Michigan State Police High Command’s use of private texting app Signal. She says use of this app violates the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

6 News’ Tim Skubick has the latest.

Signal is an encrypted text messaging app, meaning once a text is sent it’s gone forever.

This is fine for the average texter that just wants privacy, but Governor Whitmer says use of this app raises “legitimate concerns.”

“My expectation is that every person in state government is following the law,” she said.

The law she is referring to is the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA) a law that requires every state employee to keep a record of their business communications so the media, and the public, can review those messages.

The Freedom of Information Act has existed on the federal level since 1967. Michigan enacted its own version in 1976.

The MSP command used Signal specifically to keep texts secret.

“Whether it’s EGLE (Environment and Great Lakes Energy) or someone who is communicating on a device, those communications, under law, are to be retained and that is the expectation and that is something we are working to ensure is the standard,” said Whitmer.

Once the Detroit Free Press reported the use of the app, the MSP director ordered a halt on its use.

Rep. Tyrone Carter, who sits on the State Police Budget Committee, and he’s not happy this is going on.

“With everything that is going on negatively with policing for you all to do that in leadership, it ruins some of your credibility that you have in the community and the law enforcement community. For the leadership to do this and be caught and now it exploded… why?” he asked.

When asked if she would issue a government-wide ban on the app, Whitmer said she doesn’t have a lot to share.

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