For decades, Senators and Congressmen inside Washington D.C.’s beltway used the telephone as their primary form of communication with office staff, fellow politicians, and constituents around the country. However, over the last 10 years, the technology changes outside the beltway have been creeping their way into Washington D.C.’s hallowed halls. Today, text messaging has become one of the most used forms of communications by members of Congress and their staff. Text messages are quick and to the point, saving time.
However, as text messaging becomes even more widely used by politicians during each new election cycle, the needs by politicians, lobbyists, and their staff to to accurately document and save all mobile message communications becomes increasingly important. Furthermore, whenever there is any political investigation or Washington D.C. scandal that arises, text messages conversations are among the first kind of data that the FBI, CIA, or local authorities require and seek out.
Many politicians today have several mobile devices, one for work and one for personal use, but over time smartphones that were originally intended to be used for one or the other get mixed up and personal and business messages easily overlap on the different devices. Device confusion can make saving and exporting text messages a confusing thing to document for any busy politico or their team.
A recent study by NBC News has stated that over 58% of smartphones used in the House of Representatives are iPhones! On that note, today we’re going to focus on the iPhone and iPad and share a few tips and insights on how many Washington insiders currently save and manage their iOS data as well as some best practices for documenting the constant stream of SMS messages on devices used by Senators and Representatives.
Hey Congressman or Senator, back up your iPhone!
The first rule for any Member of Congress or their staff that use iPhones or iPads is to back their iOS device on a daily basis. As iPhone experts, we recommend making an encrypted local iTunes backup. There are several reasons for this:
A local iTunes backup of a Senator or Congressman’s phone ensures that they personally control their text message data and history. A local iPhone backup will also guarantee that text messages are stored on the computer of the politician or staff member and that the data is easily accessible to reference whenever needed.
Backing up an iPhone locally enables staff and aides to then make an extra copy of the backup an external hard drive for safekeeping. The staff or politician control the storage location of this extra “safety” copy and have the piece of mind that, if their primary work computer ever crashes, that a copy of their iPhone backup (that includes text message data) will be safe and sound.
By creating an encrypted backup (setup with a strong backup password), you ensure that only people with the backup password will be able to use what is in the backup, even if your computer or external drive are compromised.
Many politicians prefer not to use iCloud.
There are numerous reasons why politicians or their staff would hesitate to use iCloud for their iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch backups:
Accessibility - iCloud data is not stored locally on your computer; it’s stored on Apple’s servers. If a member of Congress or someone on their staff need to access this data, they will need an internet connection as well as extra time to download iCloud data back onto the device. The length of time it takes to download iCloud data to a device depends on the size of the data and the connection bandwidth. iPhone backups stored locally on one’s computer can often be accessed more quickly, and without an internet connection.
Security - Congressmen and Senators often have classified and sensitive data on their iPhones or iPads. Backing up devices to iCloud (or any cloud based storage platform) comes with a risk of data loss and privacy. Although Apple has stated emphatically in recent months that any data backed up to iCloud is secure and private, many politicians and their staff cannot take that chance.
Cost - iCloud offers five gigabytes of free data storage, however beyond that a user is required to pay monthly for additional storage. These fees can grow quickly and be considered by some budget-conscious staff members (and constituents) as an unnecessary expense when free local iPhone backups are available with the click of a button.
Take away - iCloud backups can be problematic for Washington D.C. politicians and the benefits of making a local iTunes backup far outweigh the risk, privacy issues, and cost that are often attributed to using iCloud storage.
How do politicians export, print, and document their iPhone text messages?
Many Washington D.C. politicians often have a need to print and save their iPhone text messages. Some like to keep records of all their SMS conversations for documentation and archiving / legacy purposes. Also, many staff and political aides like to ensure that there is an extra copy of their boss’s text messages in case they need it for staff meetings, legal hearings, or investigations.
Lost or misplaced iPhone - If a politician loses their iPhone, many times security measures require that the device needs to be disabled immediately due to sensitive or classified info contained on the iOS device. The weekly practice of backing up a politician's iPhone text messages with Decipher TextMessage enables both the individual and their aides to have a copy of their text message history saved separately from their iPhone, and thus adding an extra layer of safety if the event a device is lost, broken, or stolen.
Access to text messages without needing the iPhone - Decipher TextMessage enables a staff member to access text message history on their bosses computer without having the device in hand. If someone needs to reference a previous text message exchange or conversations, they simply open Decipher TextMessage on their Windows or Mac computer and the software will read in the most recent message conversations from the time of the last iTunes backup. This flexibility is another key reason that many members of Congress use and depend on Decipher TextMessage for managing their iOS data.
Legal Investigation / Evidence - The Decipher TextMessage software enables politicians to quickly provide investigators with evidence and documentation of any and all text message communications from any iPhone or iPad. They don’t have to rely on Apple or anyone to access this data from a locked or lost phone. Providing a local backup was made in the past, Decipher TextMessage will enable immediate access to SMS history, including images attachments and videos.
Printing iPhone text messages and exporting as PDF documents - When communicating via text message with fellow congressmen, constituents, staff, or lobbyists, many Senators and Representatives then need to take notes and document the issues contained in the SMS conversations on their iPhone or iPad. Decipher TextMessage enables any member of Congress or their aides to print out their text messages, export them as PDF documents, and to have a hard copy on hand during staff meetings and brainstorming sessions.
We hope this information about how politicians and members of Congress manage their iPhone data has been helpful. If you are a staff member or aide of a Congressman or Representative and want to try out Decipher TextMessage and start exporting and documenting iPhone text messages in your office, you can download the free trial here. If you have any questions, simply write to us via our support email and we'll be happy to respond. We're a San Francisco / Phoenix based software company and we are experts at managing iOS data and iPhone backups. You can also read testimonials from some of our amazing customers here.