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Secret messaging apps raise legal concerns

Posted at 3:41 PM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-12 19:30:19-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In light of recent reports of Gov. Eric Greitens’s use of a secret messaging app to communicate with staff, 41 Action News wanted to take a closer look at the legal implications.

The app Greitens allegedly uses is called Confide. It deletes messages as soon as they're read. It also prevents screenshots from being taken.

According to Bernie Rhodes, an attorney with Lathrop Gage, use of such apps for government business violates open records laws, since the public can't have access to the texts if they've been deleted.

"We don't know what he's using the app for, which is part of the problem, but if he's using it to conduct official business on our behalf, we're entitled to know what's in those apps," Rhodes explained. 

As for your rights, if you work for a private company that asks you to download and use apps like Confide, you may not have any legal recourse. But Rhodes said if you're a government employee, you have a right to refuse to use something if using it could mean breaking the law.

In its terms of service, the Confide app itself says it's not to be used for any unlawful purpose. 

Greitens' office did not respond to our messages Tuesday, but the Governor did comment on the Star's investigation on Monday. 

"This is another nothing story that's come from a liberal media outlet that is just desperate for salacious headlines," he told NBC affiliate KSDK.

Greitens and his staff aren't the first to be accused of using Confide. Earlier this year, Politico reported former-Press Secretary Sean Spicer checked White House aides' phones and urged them to delete secret messaging apps.