Confide App Provides Not-So-Encrypted Messaging: Complaint

Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...

By Daniel R. Stoller

A Confide Inc. messaging app popular with White House staffers was hit with class claims April 20 that it failed to live up to promises of providing “ephemeral” encrypted communications ( Auman v. Confide, Inc. , S.D.N.Y., No. 17-cv-2848, complaint filed 4/20/17 ).

Plaintiff Jeremy Auman, on behalf of a proposed class, brought claims in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Confide for allegedly failing to deliver on assurances that consumer messages were confidential and protected from mobile device screenshots.

Consumers and companies around the world are turning to confidential messaging applications, such as Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp and Telegram Messenger LLP, to protect their sensitive communications from hackers or even the government’s watchful eye. If proven, the alleged problems with the Confide app may bring into question the ability of any electronic communication to be fully confidential.

The Confide app, which allegedly was used by White House staffers to leak confidential information, supposedly provided end-to-end encryption and “unequivocal confidentiality” to personal communications, the complaint said. However, its messages failed to meet this standard and are subject to duplication and permanent storage, it said.

Confide didn’t live up to its “claims of superior security,” and it must be held “accountable to the level of security it promises,” Chris Dore, privacy partner at Edelson PC, said in an April 20 statement.

Auman, who is seeking to represent a proposed class of persons who purchased Confide premium subscriptions after August 2015, is seeking monetary relief under New York false advertising and deceptive practice laws, in addition to fraudulent inducement claims.

Confide President Jon Brod told Bloomberg BNA April 20 that the "complaint is unfounded and without merit." The company looks forward to "seeing this case swiftly thrown out of court."

In addition to Edelson, Auman is represented by Kurzman Eisenberg Corbin & Lever PC.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dStoller@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security