Sunday, August 7, 2016

Encrypted Texting & Phone Calls for Attorneys & Protesters

Texting and Facebook messaging has become the modern protester’s First Amendment communicative choice. However, when you are protesting the government, you might be asking for a subpoena.  As an attorney, if you are giving legal advice to a suspect or defendant, your privileged communications are at risk.  Even if you are simply having a conversation about the weather you are still asking to get hacked on Facebook or at risk of losing your phone. Additionally, if you are traveling abroad, your phone transmissions are vulnerable to electronic intercept, as Hillary Clinton was apparently unaware of when using her mobile devices. These risks all came to light thanks to Edward Snowden.

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That’s where the apps Wickr and Signal come on.  Wickr is like a Cloak and Dagger version of Snapchat.  (Snapchat was hacked in 2014 and the personal details of chatters were placed online.) You can program your messages to self-destruct within seconds and you are notified if the recipient takes a screenshot. Assuming you trust the recipient, it is very secure. It is arguably only at risk if the recipient uses another camera to take a photograph of his or her screen.

Technology has changed since Red Dawn - Our rights haven't.
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Signal is also an encrypted texting program but it doesn’t self-destruct.  It is a great alternative to traditional texting but still leaves the recipient as the vulnerable link in the chain. However, it does have wonderful encrypted voice phone calling capabilities. 

Attorneys would be wise to use these when communicating with clients.  Diplomats already are using them internationally. And if you are an environmental protester or a Black Lives Matter protester fearing a Trump regime, you had better start planning ahead.  Likewise, if you are a constitutional originalist protester or blogger fearing a Hillary Clinton Department of Justice, this is also something to consider.

Nonetheless, in a world of electronic subpoenas and hackers and untrustworthy Facebook “friends,” consider this: Only put something in writing if you wouldn’t mind a jury, judge or prosecutor reading it or mind the world seeing it on the front page of a newspaper.  Discretion is king.  

by Mike Arnold, 8/7/2016

Mike Arnold is an Oregon attorney. He represented Ammon Bundy in the aftermath of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation. His cases have been covered nationally, including a CBS "48 Hours" special, Trail of Tears (watch now online).  

Mike recently published a pocket constitution that is now an Amazon #1 New Release.  All proceeds go to Oregon schools.  Buy now while supplies last! (paperback or Kindle)

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