Technology

Republicans’ favorite encrypted messaging app has a big hole, lawsuit alleges

A new class-action lawsuit alleges that the encrypted messaging app reportedly favored by some White House staffers has a pretty substantial vulnerability.

Plaintiff Jeremy Auman of Michigan, who is represented by noted Silicon Valley class-action specialists Edelson PC, claimed in a Thursday court filing that the messaging service Confide has “[failed] to deliver the promised upgraded security features” to customers who pay $6.99 per month for the app’s premium tier.

Confide “does not notify anyone when a screenshot is taken when the recipient uses the Mac OS or Windows App,” the complaint stated. “And in so doing, Confide ensured that any message sent through its messaging platform is (and has been) at risk of storage.”

Confide, which has been around since 2013, has secured venture funding from heavy hitters like GV (formerly Google Ventures), SV Angel, and Lerrer Hippeau Ventures. The service gained notoriety earlier this year amid reports that it was the encrypted-messaging app of choice for “paranoid Republicans” in the White House and on Capitol Hill fearful of a hunt for anyone leaking info to the media.

An “influential GOP operative” told Axios in February that he “especially likes that Confide makes it harder to take a screenshot,” an echo of similar reports in Politico and the Washington Post. Even so, BuzzFeed news reported around the same time that cybersecurity experts didn’t think Confide had the “military-grade encryption” it claimed it did.

Confide CEO Jon Brod told CNBC in February that the app’s prominently reported usage among Washington Republicans had “catapulted” the app into a new level of popularity. 

In a statement to VICE News late Thursday, Brod said: “We have now received the complaint and had an opportunity to review it. Not surprisingly, the accusations set forth in the complaint are unfounded and without merit. We look forward to responding to this frivolous complaint and seeing this case swiftly thrown out of court.”

M-F 7:30PM HBO