Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday that the NBA sent a memo to teams stating that the league will prohibit them from using apps that "auto-delete relevant communication." This comes after the league launched an investigation in July that focused on figuring out how players were able to make their offseason decisions so quickly. The search led them to discover a high amount of activity on the Signal app. Athletes of all levels use this app to communicate with other players, teams, and coaches without leaving a public record. Signal also has an encrypted auto-delete feature.
Signal is more secure than other encrypted messaging features that are present on apps like WhatsApp. As a result, players and officials think the app is necessary to talk about confidential topics. "Our general counsel encouraged us to get on Signal," an unnamed collegiate athletic official told Yahoo. "There's auto-delete based on the rules you set, and that helps us avoid FOIA requests. The official explained that Signal has become "the main method of communication between the administration and our [athletic] staff."
To prevent teams from using Signal or other related apps, the NBA is now requiring teams to keep a record of all contract-related communication for at least a year. Per The Athletic, this could include training notes, records of endorsements, potential players that fit with the team, and more. The NBA hopes that these records will prevent players and executives from claiming that apps like Signal are standard mediums of communication. If these rules go into effect, other pro sports leagues could implement similar restrictions.