LADOT general manager used encrypted messaging for controversial tracking program

The general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation used an encrypted messaging application, designed to conceal conversations, while planning out a controversial vehicle tracking program that has resulted in lawsuits from Uber and the American Civil Liberties Union, according to records obtained by this news organization.

The use of Signal, a popular messaging app capable of deleting messages automatically, isn’t inherently problematic, but Seleta Reynolds did not keep copies of those conversations as required by the California Public Records Act and Los Angeles’ own retention policy.

“Signal, and other encrypted apps, are akin to keeping a shredder in the office and shredding every document that passes through a public official’s desk,” said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. “If public officials are using apps that either destroy records automatically, or otherwise make them inaccessible, they are violating the Public Records Act.”