The FTC says Amazon executives destroyed potential evidence using apps like Signal

now, Washington Post (owned by Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos) notes that Amazon is just one of several companies that have recently been accused of turning to encrypted messaging apps like Signal that can automatically erase messages permanently.

This week's filing includes screenshots of a Signal conversation between two Amazon executives, in which they said: “Feeling encrypted?” He proceeded to play the disappearing messages.

2:23-CV-01495-JHC
Image: Federal Trade Commission et al. v. Amazon.com Inc

FTC lawyers say Bezos, current CEO Andy Jassy, ​​general counsel David Zapolsky, former CEO of global operations Dave Clark, and other executives are all Signal users. Bezos is identified in the document as a “heavy user of Signal” who instructed others to use the app, though a 2018 hack of his personal cell phone may be part of the reason why.

Because Amazon did not instruct employees to preserve messages sent in the app until more than 15 months after it was notified of the investigation, the FTC says: “It is very likely that relevant information was destroyed as a result of Amazon's actions and inaction.”

FTC lawyers are seeking to discover Amazon's efforts to preserve documents so they can find out how much information may be missing. Despite requests last fall for relevant documents about advice Amazon gave employees about ephemeral apps, the FTC alleges that Amazon has so far refused to produce much of what has been requested. If the judge finds that Amazon was negligent in failing to preserve data related to the case, it could face penalties, and matters could get worse if the judge finds that the failures were willful.

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