The campaign staff of the US presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton uses Signal encryption for communications.
According to Vanity Fair magazine, the Clinton campaign began using the encrypted messaging app in the wake of the Democratic National Convention data leaks earlier this year. This comes after the former Secretary of State was involved in the mishandling of private data by using a private email server.
Signal earned the famed NSA whistleblower (and fugitive from the American government) Edward Snowden’s approval earlier this year. Hillary Clinton has maintained a hard line against Snowden both during her campaign and her tenure as Secretary of State, and so it is with a hint of irony that she is now taking his encryption advice.
Meanwhile, governments crack down on encryption
While the campaign staff of candidates aiming for the highest government offices in the world seek to protect the integrity of their data through end-to-end encryption, the same government they aspire to lead takes a hard line on encryption.
FBI Director James Comey in a keynote address to the Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, DC declared that his agency was preparing to launch an attack on encryption in 2017, once the dust from November’s election has settled.
Governments in Europe have also joined the anti-encryption struggle. The interior ministers of both France and Germany have demanded that the EU put regulations in place mandating that encrypted messaging apps include backdoors for law enforcement use. This would effectively constitute a ban on end-to-end encryption.
Snowden’s rise from outcast to celebrity
In addition to affecting the choices of encryption apps of the major US presidential candidates, Edward Snowden has had an impact on other areas of culture as well. In an upcoming film by director Oliver Stone, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is slated to portray the leaker-turned-celebrity. In preparation for this role, Gordon-Levitt is rumored to be meeting with Snowden himself in order to more accurately capture the role.
Snowden himself tweeted about this odd turnaround in reputation:
2015: Even if he revealed unlawful government surveillance, put him in jail!— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 27, 2016
2016: wait what apps does he use pic.twitter.com/00XIm45l3p
While Snowden has recently gained a certain following and status, both major presidential candidates still call for anywhere from his arrest to his execution. However, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee who is polling third nationally, said he would seriously consider pardoning Snowden.