DC lawmakers propose emergency bill to curb mayor's staff WhatsApp usage

A D.C. lawmaker says the District’s top brass may be using the popular messaging app WhatsApp.

That assertion is at the center of new legislation up for debate for DC legislators tomorrow.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson says lawmakers are apparently using the app, known for its disappearing message feature, to communicate in private.

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Chairman Mendelson’s Office says he suspects the mayor’s staff is using WhatsApp to communicate, and this legislation would prevent that.

The issue is if government workers in the District are using WhatsApp to communicate, there’s almost no way to preserve that communication for public record. That’s a problem.

"Apparently, reportedly there are members of the executive branch that are using WhatsApp to possibly avoid the FOIA ability," Chairman Mendelson said.

The councilman is proposing the emergency legislation to preserve all communication involving D.C. government employees, specifically via the mobile application WhatsApp, moving forward. 


Mendelson says it’s an urgent matter and the goal of his proposal is transparency.

He also points out residents must trust their public servants.

If passed, Mendelson’s proposal would amend the District’s public records management act of 1985.

Most importantly, the new legislation would prohibit district workers from using settings that automatically delete or destroy communication.