Fear spurs federal worker use of encrypted communication

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2017 | Employee Law

Making and enforcing policy in any organization is a tough job. Federal workers tasked with such work face the additional hurdle of having to try to accomplish it under the shadow of competing political ideologies and oversight.

Laws are in place protecting workers’ rights to due process. And, in the current political environment, some may argue that they need to organize not just for their own sakes but for the good of the country as well. This clearly has many wondering what options exist for them to continue communicating without violating government rules on openness and transparency.

Fear reportedly drives workers’ concern. For one thing, the Trump Office of Management and Budget is on record saying agencies should get ready for slashed budgets. That has some observers saying that will mean drastic layoffs. Then there are those in the workforce who may disagree with elements of the Trump agenda and feel obliged to push back.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, a new boss who says the debate over the human contribution to climate change is still subject to debate has some workers nervous. Similar groups are said to exist within the State and Labor Departments.

According to at least one report, workers are turning to encrypted communication apps on their smartphones or using encrypted emails as a way to stay connected. They say another goal is to be an internal watchdog against possible unlawful actions by Trump appointees without violating government rules on workplace communications that could get them fired.

A debate is raging over whether such practices violate laws intended to maintain government transparency. If a worker faces the threat of disciplinary action because of this kind of activity, contacting an attorney should be a priority.