We join Auditor Nicole Galloway's call for bipartisan support in banning self-deleting apps in state government.
Our political views don't all align with the auditor's, but on this issue we've always been of one mind.
Galloway is urging the other five statewide officeholders — the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer — to encourage the Missouri Legislature to strengthen the state's Sunshine Law, making such app use illegal in state government.
Government is empowered by the public and funded by the public, and should operate openly in the public.
There's no reason for government employees or publicly funded agencies to use apps that delete information, essentially hiding it from the public.
The apps became an issue during the administration of former Gov. Eric Greitens, which used Confide, which boasts: "With encrypted, self-destructing, and screenshot-proof messages, Confide gives you the comfort of knowing that your private communication will now truly stay that way."
St. Louis lawyer Mark Pedroli filed a lawsuit in December 2017, on behalf of Ben Sansone and a group called The Sunshine Project, arguing using Confide violated the state's Open Records, or Sunshine Law.
In July, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem sided with Greitens and dismissed the suit.
The judge ruled Confide doesn't create government records that can be retained, the Associated Press reported. Beetem also ruled that as a private citizen, Sansone cannot sue Greitens over alleged Sunshine Law violations.
The fact that the apps were not deemed illegal just reinforces the need for lawmakers to make them illegal.
The auditor's office points out that such a measure would be consistent with recent guidelines approved by the State Records Commission. The guidelines, which were adopted by a bipartisan vote, stated that the use of auto-deleting applications should be prohibited by policy. The State Records Commission membership includes the state auditor, secretary of state, attorney general and the governor's designees.
Missouri's statewide officeholders should show unified support for banning self-deleting apps. That would send a powerful message to the legislature — and to Missourians — that they support transparency.