In its response to our request, the CIA cited broad provisions in federal law that allow it to keep all sorts of information from the public by claiming it has to do with “intelligence sources and methods,” which can mean anything from the identity of a spy in a foreign leader’s inner circle to the podcasts a random bureaucrat listens to while driving to work. The agency is within its rights to do this, but it’s just another in a long list of examples of why federal classification laws should be changed to give more weight to the public’s right to get answers to even stupid questions relative to the right of public employees to keep what they do and how they do it entirely secret.(VICE has asked Slack if the CIA is a Slack customer; we'll update if they reply.)The General Services Administration’s response to a request for records about their Slack usage provides an example of the good results yielded by federal agencies being transparent about what they’re doing. Asked for a list of its Slack domains, the GSA provided it; the agency then provided a seemingly up-to-date list of its Slack channels, which you can read here. This is how we know that in addition to boring-sounding channels like “#md_css2017rhsdatapull,” the GSA has the following channels, which don’t sound boring at all:
CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of such records is itself currently and properly classified
Is the CIA paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in public money so that spies can put secrets on a fundamentally insecure platform? Are they talking in channels like #churchfart, or perhaps in ones like #jfk-assassination-secrets, #false-flag-ops, or #ufo-disclosure? Probably the former, and perhaps the latter; for now, they don’t have to say.
Do you work for the CIA, or another federal agency? We'd love to talk to you about Slack. Contact the writer via a non-work device at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.