|(Sept. 18, 2018, 6:30 p.m.) -- The City of Long Beach today (Sept. 18) issued a statement effectively acknowledging that over a period of years, it has been using a mobile application that automatically causes certain text messages or similar communications to disappear and make them virtually inaccessible in the future.
The story was uncovered by Steve Downing, a columnist for the Beachcomber who told LBREPORT.com that he'd learned about LBPD's use of "TigerText" from sources inside LBPD, made a Public Records Act for documents to pursue it, and the City informed him that it had no responsive documents. Mr. Downing said he then communicated with ACLU which made its own Public Records Act request...and received responsive documents, which it shared with Mr. Downing. Mr. Downing then shared the story with Al Jazeera which began its own parallel investigation and published its own story this morning (Sept. 18) as an "exclusive" (without mentioning Mr. Downing.) A few hours later, Mr. Downing published his own online account on Beachcomber.news that described his role in uncovering the story.
A City statement today (Sept. 18) from Public Affairs Officer Kevin Lee follows verbatim:
[City of Long Beach Sept. 18 statement]
TigerText's company website indicates tha application is designed for use in medical messaging and communications to efficiently ensure the privacy and protection of patient/medical related content.
The full implications of today's revelations -- potentially affecting LBPD criminal cases and prosecutions and various civil contexts (including the Public Records Act) -- will be developing over the coming days, weeks and beyond.
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