State Agency Drops Use Of Messaging App That Raised Concerns

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has stopped using a secure messaging app that raised concerns that material might not be preserved for investigations and for disclosure under the state's public records law.

CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock said Thursday the department stopped using the Signal app in late April, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The department started using Signal early in the pandemic after child welfare officials realized they lacked a safe and secure platform allowing employees to work remotely, Blalock said.

The agency liked the free service because it offered encryption and complied with a federal medical privacy law, Blalock said.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, Republican legislative leaders and others had voiced concern about use of the app, saying routine deletion of messages could hinder transparency and availability of records for investigations.

While contending the department was not deleting any records it must keep under the Inspection of Public Records Act, Blalock said he didn't want workers to use technology that weakens the public’s trust of the child welfare agency.