ATF, DEA Have No Idea How to Archive Sexts

But they’re working on it!

May 20 2015, 6:32pm

Image: Intel Free Press/Flickr

Remember the bombshell report from March that accused agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) engaging in wild sex parties with prostitutes? Well, apparently that's not the only good part of it, as MuckRock just discovered.

Dug deep in the inspector general report is a chapter (chapter five to be exact) about sexting. DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents are just like us and use their smartphones to sext each other up, but the problem is that the Justice Department can't monitor the sexts because they "lack the technology to archive such material."

Thus, the only way the agency can see if a message breached protocol is if they confiscate or cutely ask the person to hand over the phone. Even the agencies admit that's pretty stupid since the employee could simply delete the text if asked or "adulterate the evidence by adding or removing language contained in the text message."

MuckRock notes that this "has troubling implications not only with regard to agent misconduct, but also for the government's ability to uphold the rights of prosecuted suspects."

On the other hand, the FBI and US Marshals, which are also under Justice Department supervision, archive their employee's texts—to a limit. The FBI preserves the diagnostic logs, but the log data isn't great because keyword searches sometimes don't return accurate results.

The Justice Department hopes to lay out fixes to "acquire and implement technology" that archives texts and images by June 30.