Boris Johnson – ban ‘disappearing texts’ for government business!

To Prime Minister Boris Johnson: we call on you to ban the use of “disappearing texts” across government:

  • Officials and ministers must be banned from using disappearing texts on apps like WhatsApp
  • Proper records of government discussions must be kept on any app used for government work
  • Respect the Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act

More and more critical government business is being run on instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. These apps include an auto-delete setting, where messages “disappear” in as little as a second. 

The government has admitted they let ministers and officials set texts to delete. Once a text is gone, it’s gone. Crucial discussions at the heart of government are vanishing – for good. This avoids transparency and democratic accountability.

Vital evidence of government decision making is being lost to the disappearing text. That could include evidence about Brexit, the Covid response, or a political crony lobbying for government contracts. It’s the modern equivalent of shredding documents and it should stop.

We want Boris Johnson to ban this practise across the government. The Citizens, supported by Foxglove, are taking the government to court and have been working on fixing this for over a year. Every signature on the petition helps prove that the public cares about rooting out corruption and building transparency and trust in our democracy.