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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online News

Site Launches To Track Warrant Canaries 159

Trailrunner7 writes: In the years since Edward Snowden began putting much of the NSA's business in the street, including its reliance on the secret FISA court and National security Letters, warrant canaries have emerged as a key method for ISPs, telecoms, and other technology providers to let the public know whether they have received any secret orders. But keeping track of the various canaries scattered around the Web is difficult, so a group of legal and civil liberties organizations have come together to launch a new site to monitor the known warrant canaries.

The Canary Watch site is the work of the EFF, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and NYU's Technology Law and Policy Center and it works on a simple concept. The site maintains a list of all of the known warrant canaries and periodically checks each organization's site to see whether the canary is still there and then lists any changes to the status. Right now, Canary Watch lists 11 organizations, including Lookout, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr.

"Canarywatch lists the warrant canaries we know about, tracks changes or disappearances of those canaries, and allows users to submit canaries not listed on the site. For people with interest in a particular canary, the site will show any changes we know about," Nadia Kayyali of the EFF said in a blog post.
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Site Launches To Track Warrant Canaries

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  • Silly Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @07:28PM (#48975101)

    What do people do when these canaries die? Are people expected to stop using these services when the canary dies? Is it an early warning to people who may have been the subject of a secret warrant? Is this supposed to get the masses angry/raise awareness to hopefully bring change?

    I'm not trying to make an argument here, I'm legitimately confused as to the practical use of this tool outside an academic/theoretical scenario. What is the goal here?

    • Re:Silly Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by kogut ( 1133781 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @07:32PM (#48975137)

      What is the goal here?

      I think it's simply to bring some transparency and visibiity to the number and scope of secret warrants.

      • by UPZ ( 947916 )

        What is the goal here?

        I think it's simply to bring some transparency and visibiity to the number and scope of secret warrants.

        What is to say that court orders won't require making false statements to general public (ie. false canary)?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm pretty sure that the whole point of a canary is that while it's OK for a court to say "You may not speak of this", and "You must speak of this truthfully unless it's self-incriminating", it's not currently OK for a court to say "You must speak falsehood about this", at least in US law.

          • Re:Silly Question (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @07:58PM (#48975307)

            I'm pretty sure that the whole point of a canary is that while it's OK for a court to say "You may not speak of this", and "You must speak of this truthfully unless it's self-incriminating", it's not currently OK for a court to say "You must speak falsehood about this", at least in US law.

            It's NOT okay for a court to say "you may not speak of this".
            I really wish someone would have the balls to stand up to the blatantly unconstitutional bullshit prevalent in the system.

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            sure it is. it's pretty easy to pose a legitimate consumer issues related question in a way that requires them to claim a falsehood.

            the canaries are as such false hope of anything. it's not like they can contest the requirement to portray a falsehood in a public forum anyways.

        • Re:Silly Question (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @08:11PM (#48975365)

          read the faq on the canarywatch site.

          according to them (fwiw) they say they have never heard of any court forcing 'false truths' to be made via nsl's.

          so, they can force you to shut up, but they can't 'compel speech' and especially not false speech (lies).

          (only the cops, judges, politicians and various TLAs can lie. they can't force *us* to lie. ... )

          • by pepty ( 1976012 )

            read the faq on the canarywatch site.

            according to them (fwiw) they say they have never heard of any court forcing 'false truths' to be made via nsl's.

            so, they can force you to shut up, but they can't 'compel speech' and especially not false speech (lies).

            (only the cops, judges, politicians and various TLAs can lie. they can't force *us* to lie. ... )

            So can the government hack the canary, then force you to shut up about the canary no longer being under your control?

          • (only the cops, judges, politicians and various TLAs can lie. they can't force *us* to lie. ... )

            Although... if they *could* force us to lie, then they they could just be forcing people at the EFF and canary websites to lie about not being able to force them to lie.

            Whether they could force us to lie or not, we would be presented with the information that they cannot force us to lie.

            If someone says "They can force us to lie." That statement can only be true if "they" allowed that someone to say it (i.e. because they could have forced that person to lie about that statement).

            • by pla ( 258480 )
              Although... if they *could* force us to lie, then they they could just be forcing people at the EFF and canary websites to lie about not being able to force them to lie.

              Although these warrants may count as secret, the law itself does not. If the government had forced EFF to lie about this, a million hotshot lawyers fresh out of college would have jumped all over them - Either for making such a rookie error, or ironically enough, flagging that claim as itself a canary.
              • What you seem to be arguing is that "they" can't force us to lie. (i.e. the hotshot lawyers fresh out of college would not be forced to lie).

                I am not suggesting we actually are forced to lie (because I think that would be extremely difficult). All I am saying is that *if* we could be forced to lie, then the result would be the same.

                A person not forced to lie would say: "I am not forced to lie"

                A person forced to lie would say: "I am not forced to lie"

                • by pla ( 258480 )
                  Unless you mean to suggest that "they" have forced every lawyer in the US to lie to the rest of us, you've missed my point - Those lawyers not under order to lie would call BS on the EFF's claims.

                  That said, yes, I will grant that if literally everyone had to lie, the results would look indistinguishable. Doesn't make it a very good conspiracy, though, if it includes everyone. :)
                  • Unless you mean to suggest that "they" have forced every lawyer in the US to lie to the rest of us, you've missed my point - Those lawyers not under order to lie would call BS on the EFF's claims.

                    If you recall I said:

                    I am not suggesting we actually are forced to lie

                    That said, yes, I will grant that if literally everyone had to lie, the results would look indistinguishable. Doesn't make it a very good conspiracy, though, if it includes everyone. :)

                    Not *everyone*, just everyone that received warrants.

                    • by pla ( 258480 )
                      Yeah, I got that part - So what, exactly, stops every non-warrant-receiving hungry young JD fresh out of school from pointing out that the EFF has it (hypothetically) wrong?

                      The "indistinguishable" part only works under two conditions:

                      1) They can force people to lie, and
                      2) Every lawyer in the country has an NSL against them ordering them to lie about point #1.

                      Otherwise, my original point holds - Organizations the size of the EFF can't just make things up and get away without someone calling them on it
                    • So you are asking why doesn't some hungry young JD reveal the secret law that allows the government to compel people to lie?
                    • by pla ( 258480 )
                      Ah, I've figured out where we diverged in our discussion - You refer to a secret law, whereas I only meant secret warrants.

                      In that case, I suppose you have a valid argument, but still, kinda tough to enforce secret laws - When Google gets an NSL, as its very first step it would have its army of lawyers decide the legality of the order. If its lawyers don't know about secret law X that compels a company to lie, they would advise Larry and Sergey to use it as toilet paper.

                      So even if that order held up in
                    • I do agree that public laws are a lot easier to enforce than secret laws. But it's also easier to enforce public warrants than secret warrants (as evidenced by the existence of warrant canaries).

                      I don't know how actual NSLs work, but I could imagine a world in which you are not allowed to tell your lawyer about an NSL without violating the law. Or perhaps a world where a special government lawyer is provided to you to answer any questions you may have about the NSL that you are not allowed to tell anyone

        • Courts are supposed to follow the law. At least as of now, there is no law that allows this. Not to say there won't be one in the future. Luckily we have a do nothing Congress at the moment so keep your fingers crossed.
          • Agency regulations come into play before courts are involved. When an agency regulation has a gag order preventing the victim from speaking to a court, then you have the kind of situation we now have in America with FISA, NSA, etc.

            "But what good is a phone call if you have no mouth?" Agent Smith asked very quietly.

            • Law trumps regulations. The (LOL) Patriot Act created these secret warrants. The law says nothing about the above noted canaries.
              • Regulations trump the law in the short term since the agencies have the police-power of the state to enforce them. Laws only matter in the long term and if you have the resources to mount a defense.

                Also consider that a unsuccessful defense can be ruinous.

              • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @11:53AM (#48980491)

                Law trumps regulations.

                Perhaps you mean statutes [wikipedia.org] trump regulation [wikipedia.org]? Regulations are a form of law created by government agencies to shape and enforce statutes created by the legislature. Regulations very much carry the weight of law and ARE a form of lawmaking. They can be overridden by statues or case law [wikipedia.org] but in the absence of such statutes or case law the regulation is the law.

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @07:31PM (#48975127)

    It's been a year and a half.

  • Say someone who receives a national security letter finds it posted completely anonymously to the internet. What can happen?

    • The agencies that issue NSLs are the same agencies tracking everything that goes on via the internet. The list of suspects in such a case is short. Federal prison is not fun.

      • A way to give them a headache, is just to quietly not comply. Not post the national security letter, not shout anything from the rooftops, just refuse to do as you're told. They either have to punish you openly, drawing attention to what they were trying to do, or go full criminal and "cause something bad to happen to you" (which has risks of its own for them).

        I have argued that once several, actually important people started to do this (e.g. silicon valley tech sector employees, or even execs), the governm

        • I have argued that once several, actually important people started to do this (e.g. silicon valley tech sector employees, or even execs), the government would quickly find out the headaches weren't worth it,

          Well, no. There are people like this in the news for suspicious-seeming suicides all the fucking time, and what's more, they seem to come in clusters. But nobody believes (for good or ill) that these are the results of coverups, even if they damned well look like it. And that raises the question, how would you get the truth? There's a whole apparatus in between it and you. So it seems like there's little sense in fretting about it...

        • If you don't comply with a lawful order, you're taking a pretty big risk. The publicity value of sending somebody who defies an NSL to prison would probably be worth revealing that there was an NSL in the first place.

    • Re:Leaking an NSL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @08:04PM (#48975339)

      Posting it just confirms that you received it.

      Tear it up and shred it, it is just a letter that has no power.

      "no approval from a judge is required for the FBI to issue an NSL."

      That means it is worthless, when a court decides to issue an order for something, then I'll care.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

      I'm well aware that most large companies just comply, they don't care... I do, I consider NSLs to be unconstitutional, get a judge to issue a warrant and I'll be willing to comply.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        The FBI has more guns than you do.

        • Re:Leaking an NSL (Score:5, Interesting)

          by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @09:22PM (#48975747)

          Yes they do, and if they came in guns drawn, I of course would offer no resistance.

          I would then call my lawyer. They would have to charge me with something in front of a judge, at which point they are going to have a hard time explaining why I'm there since I didn't actually do anything.

          Now if the judge wants to issue a warrant for the information the FBI is asking for, then of course I would comply. The judge can also order me to not reveal anything about the case for security reasons, and I can respect that too. The key part is the judge is doing the ordering, not the FBI.

          My issue is with the FBI just deciding they can ask for anything they want without a warrant.

          While I don't care to get into details for obvious reasons, I can tell you that they can be compelled to get a warrant. All I'll say is that I've been served before, I've had the FBI standing in my office and I complied because there was a warrant issued by a judge.

          And that is how it is supposed to happen.

          ---

          Side note, while it is true the FBI can charge you with a crime for ignoring a NSL, that charge isn't secret... let me just say that when told politely that you'll comply with a warrant, they can get one pretty quickly (less than 24 hours in the above case) so it really isn't asking that much of them.

          • You sound rich.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            The FBI would likely explain that the secret judge had already secretly signed a secret warrant in the secret court, sorry we can't show you but pinky swear it exists. That's the sort of rule of law we have these days, sadly.

            • Re:Leaking an NSL (Score:5, Insightful)

              by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:38AM (#48976917)

              The FBI would likely explain that the secret judge had already secretly signed a secret warrant in the secret court, sorry we can't show you but pinky swear it exists. That's the sort of rule of law we have these days, sadly.

              To which I would, very politely reply, "that might be true, I'm not a lawyer and honestly don't know. I'll have to consult with my lawyer and get back to you. Rest assured it is my intention to comply with the law, but I need to know what the law is first and my lawyer is the professional who advises me of that"

              I would also politely suggest that if they would like a quicker response, bring me a normal warrant signed by a judge and they'll get instant service.

              ---

              I fully understand the attitude of many police officers and federal agents, they think walking into a business and flashing their badge gets them access, and often it probably does. Some people probably comply out of a sense of being a patriot, or just to get them out of their office.

              On the other hand, I don't hand out business information to anyone who just walks into the door, at least not without a court order.

              ---

              May I say... the whole idea of dealing with anyone from the government, be police or FBI, is to show respect for their position and for the law, I find that goes a long way towards having friendly conversations. There is no room for "tough guy" talk, they'll win that one...

              • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:05PM (#48980623)

                To which I would, very politely reply, "that might be true, I'm not a lawyer and honestly don't know. I'll have to consult with my lawyer and get back to you. Rest assured it is my intention to comply with the law, but I need to know what the law is first and my lawyer is the professional who advises me of that"

                To which they would likely respond by putting you in a jail cell until such time as you were able to consult your lawyer and then proceed with the search with or without your help. Probably would charge you with obstruction of justice at a minimum.

                On the other hand, I don't hand out business information to anyone who just walks into the door, at least not without a court order.

                Laudable but not necessarily possible.

                May I say... the whole idea of dealing with anyone from the government, be police or FBI, is to show respect for their position and for the law, I find that goes a long way towards having friendly conversations.

                You're presuming the government representative will be friendly in return. They might but there are countless examples of them being anything but friendly.

                • o which they would likely respond by putting you in a jail cell until such time as you were able to consult your lawyer and then proceed with the search with or without your help. Probably would charge you with obstruction of justice at a minimum.

                  Only if it's easier to do that than anything else. The trick is that he's not saying "no". He's saying "yes when". So the FBI makes a phone call, meets a judge, gets a sheet of paper, and gets cooperation.

                  This clearly aligns their goals

                  • Exactly... I'm giving them a clear and fairly easy path to a yes that also happens to comply with the law...

                    I'm not under any illusions of being some tough guy who can just laugh and say "no, and you can't make me". That would be stupid, and the easy way or the hard way, if they really want to make me, they can.

                • To which they would likely respond by putting you in a jail cell until such time as you were able to consult your lawyer and then proceed with the search with or without your help. Probably would charge you with obstruction of justice at a minimum.

                  I suspect we are talking about two different things.

                  First, if they simply want to bust in and conduct a search via force, they don't need a NSL to do it, they have guns and can be thugs any time they want.

                  Second, when the FBI visits your office because they want information about a customer, they don't come in with a dozen agents with guns, two men in suits come in and hand your their business card and say, "we would like to ask you a few questions about a customer of yours that we have concerns about".

                  At w

                • You're presuming the government representative will be friendly in return. They might but there are countless examples of them being anything but friendly.

                  In my experience, most professions in the government are quite friendly. I have worked with the FAA, the DEA, and had brief encounters with the FBI, all of whom were very pleasant.

          • oh, how cute. a guy who thinks that the system can work for him. a little guy. yeah, really, how cute is that!

            the system will not work for you. by design.

            (unless you're very rich or well connected. but posting on slash? nah, you're not rich or connected, just disconnected from actual reality.)

            best of luck when the government comes after you. the constitution stopped being our rule book a decade or so, ago.

            • You misunderstand...

              Being polite and considerate goes a long way when dealing with men in suits from the government. When you show that you're a law abiding citizen who is happy to comply with the law, that helps too.

              Simply informing them that you're happy to comply when presented a warrant from a judge gives them a clear path to get what they want.

              Anything else? Never heard of it, will have to discuss with my lawyer.

              The warrant can be obtained in less than 24 hours, the other path takes longer.

              But go ahe

        • Depends on who you are talking to. Me not hard to do, one of my friend's gun nut father, maybe.
      • Re:Leaking an NSL (Score:5, Informative)

        by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 03, 2015 @10:26PM (#48976141) Homepage Journal

        You seem to be unaware that Federal agency regulations are enforceable long before a situation can be brought before any court. The agencies have their own "courts" as defined by agency law, with their own means of encouraging cooperation. Such as confiscation of property, like all your computers and hard drives. And your cars. And your house. And your passport. Oh, and freezing your bank accounts.

        It is all done according to their regulations, generally. The agencies are the ones who take the general guidelines given to them by directives of the Executive branch and/or laws of the Legislative branch and work them up into whatever regulations the agencies think would be most effective. That always means self-serving, to some extent. If you will notice, there is no mention in any of this about being innocent until proven guilty-- this is not court law, this is agency regulation.

        It is a crappy system. It can be badly abused: J. Edgar Hoover. There needs to be reform. But this is so integral to the standing government-- all those agencies and bureaucrats who are unaffected by elections-- that reform is not going to happen anytime soon, and possibly not without bloodshed. And by the way, I'm a hippy leftest libtard, not a gun rights freak or anything like that.

      • YANAL (Score:4, Informative)

        by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:35AM (#48976905)

        Posting it just confirms that you received it.
        Tear it up and shred it, it is just a letter that has no power.
        I consider NSLs to be unconstitutional

        There is a quote from H.P. Lovecraft that is relevant here: "Do not call up what you can't put down."

        Do nothing until you talk to a lawyer.

        Talk to a lawyer whose only loyalty is to his client --- you --- and not the advocate for the EFF.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        some large companies have spent significant time to fight them in (secret) courts.

        so it's just a delay for them if you intend to stay in business. why not a normal warrant? for that you have to be specific and have an actual criminal investigation going on..

      • Tear it up and shred it, it is just a letter that has no power.

        Right. Enjoy your trip to prison if you truly believe that. The available case law does not support your opinion on this presently. I hope that chances but your assertion that "it is just a letter that has no power" is not presently supported by the facts.

        I'm well aware that most large companies just comply, they don't care... I do, I consider NSLs to be unconstitutional, get a judge to issue a warrant and I'll be willing to comply.

        I agree with you that they are (or should be) unconstitutional but that does not mean you can ignore them without consequences.

    • The government would hold the recipient of said NSL accountable for failing to enact adequate security measures to prevent said NSL from leaking. Similar to any other crime of willful negligence.

      • The government would hold the recipient of said NSL accountable for failing to enact adequate security measures to prevent said NSL from leaking.

        Which means nothing. Congress makes laws, not the NSA or FBI. Congress is also specifically precluded from making any law that limits free speech by the first amendment.

        NSLs are an extra-judicial attempt to circumvent the individuals' right to free speech. They can't hold up in court since there is no legal basis to issue them in the first place.

        • NSLs are served to third parties. Courts have upheld compelling third parties to provide evidence.

        • There is only the small problem of getting to court when NSA and FBI regulations come into play before the courts are involved. When those regulations stipulate that property can be confiscated, bank accounts can be frozen, and you could be turned out into the street with nothing more than the cash in your pocket, that is a powerful incentive to STFU and do whatever the Man says to do.

          You may not have any effective allies, either, since there is nothing preventing your lawyer from being gifted with an NSL

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The people who had the letter shown to them and their legal team would be put under more extra special top secret surveillance.
      All members of the US press who showed any interest in the case, legal team or letter would be under more surveillance.
      Any member of the public who linked, hosted or commented on the story would be under surveillance.
      ie everybody would then share in the sealed secret court fun of that original NSL. RICO Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act like :)
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        The people who had the letter shown to them and their legal team would be put under more extra special top secret surveillance.

        Double secret probation [youtube.com].

        Any member of the public who linked, hosted or commented on the story would be under surveillance.

        I am Spartacus.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The proposed use of "canaries" will serve as a mechanism to tip terrorists that the government has compelled communications companies for their communications. This will result in terrorists moving to other services that the govenment won't be able to obtain. As a result the public will be at greater risk and EFF will have given aid to the enemy.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      AC: A self signed letter from an official due to some imagined totality of circumstances does not remove the US protections regarding unreasonable search and seizure.
      The US Constitution is not some living document an official can alter with some new view of what is legal reasonableness.
    • Frankly, there's far less threat from terrorism than there is from government overreach. Now, that's not the government's opinion on the matter, which should be no surprise, but I'm not the government. As an average citizen, I'm far more likely to be struck by lightning, or to be a victim of mistaken identity by some government agency (already happened, once), than I am to be a victim of a terrorist. Given that, the terrorists aren't the only "enemy" here, nor are they the most dangerous one by any meas
    • The enemy without is not the only enemy.

      Constitutions are designed to get in governments' way. That is their sole purpose. If they didn't get in the way, they wouldn't be "Constitutions", they'd be guidelines. Voluntary codes. Best Practice advisories. It's the getting in the way that makes them Constitutions.

      If a Constitution gets in a government's way excessively, then there are usually mechanisms within those Constitutions to change them. The US Constitution has such a mechanism. If the First and Fourth

  • So, if they are told they can't indicate they received an NSL, and there is otherwise no proof the NSL was delivered due to lack of evidence aside from whatever the FBI has, then if someone were to leak that they received an NSL (or any other form of acknowledgement to this effect) then this by itself would require some further action by the FBI to arrest, rub out, or otherwise eliminate the person under some other reason to avoid revealing the contents or existence of the NSL?

    It seems like being sent to un

    • Once a NSL, warrant or other court order is leaked, the secrecy is broken. The leaked copy is itself the evidence of the leak. The "unspeakable places" are only needed to motivate the recipient to accept a plea deal.

    • FPMITA (federal pound me...) would require a reasonably clear case against the person, and therefore require the FBI to cough up whatever reason they can?

      Oh, I'm sure there's a crime in there. "Obstruction of Justice" sounds like a good catch-all.

      • by thebes ( 663586 )

        Oh, I'm sure there's a crime in there. "Obstruction of Justice" sounds like a good catch-all.

        Leading to "Obstruction of Orifice"

  • "and if they later receive an NSL, they remove the statement, thus communicating that event to the public without violating any laws."

    all very well until the gag warrant is worded to prevent you from removing the statement...

    • by vakuona ( 788200 )

      I would suggest there is a much cleaner way for the TLAs to make warrant canaries ineffective. Send a warrant to every company that publishes a canary. In a short space of time, no company of any note will have a canary, and the whole point of issuing a canary is defeated.

      • I would suggest there is a much cleaner way for the TLAs to make warrant canaries ineffective. Send a warrant to every company that publishes a canary. In a short space of time, no company of any note will have a canary, and the whole point of issuing a canary is defeated.

        Too risky-- it would show up in Canary Watch when they all dissapear, and you'd start seeing a lot of new canaries being published by companies who hadn't done it before, which would then all get their own NSLs, and the whole thing would continue to snowball until someone refused to comply with an NSL and the resulting stink would probably kill off NSLs alltogether.

        • by vakuona ( 788200 )

          Warrant canaries are about providing information that is useful The government can make the canaries useless by effectively forcing companies to not publish one indefinitely. yes, people will take note when they disappear, but that will be the last you hear of them. And that is all that matters.

          The TLAs have two options, either gag companies (which would be messy), or DOS them by sending them warrants every day.

          Warrant canaries sound clever, but they are easily defeated. Remember, the only thing a company c

          • The TLAs can effectively DOS the warrant canaries in their current form.

            Many companies challenge the warrants, subpoenas and NSLs. (At the sort of the companies with Warrant Canaries.) If a TLA starts to issue frivolous ones, eventually a judge (yes, even an American judge) will see it as an abuse of process. That ruling then sets the precedent for the rest to be challenged.

            NSL-DOSing may actually be a good thing for EFF/ACLU and the companies that object to these secret orders, since the agencies issuing them will inevitably make a mistake.

          • I don't see them automatically sending NSLs to every company in the United States, even just once, much less on a regular basis. That in itself would create quite a stir. And if they try to do it just to companies who've published canaries, they'll be playing whack-a-mole with them. And they can't pass a law pre-empting canaries in general without running into freedom of speech problems. No, I don't see they can stomp on canaries and still continue to fly under the radar.
    • Then you do something else that isn't specifically excluded by the letter of the gag warrant.

      "Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for attending this press conference which is being streamed live. We, CompanyName, would like to announce that we are not removing our so-called Warrant Canary notice. We do not expect that our company will remove this notice, which claims [text of notice], at any point in the foreseeable future. Further, we reiterate that we have not received a [specific name of warrant

    • Sure. I put up a statement that "We received no NSL letters or other secret stuff in December 2014." The gag warrant then prevents me from removing the statement. That is not the same thing as making me put up a statement that includes January 2015.

  • So... I add a Canary to my site, and when I remove it, you launch an announcement in yours. Aren't we building together a distributed system which violates the explicit compulsory silence associated to the order? I mean, a canary is used because an explicit announcement is forbidden, so this system might constitute an explicit violation of the silence order, without the original user (the one who added the canary) even knowing. Is this correct? Are both parties liable?

    • I think the key is that while the government is on at least shaky ground with these warrants the ground is solid when it comes to the inability to compel someone to lie.

      With the law often the key is that every link in a chain must be solid. A simple example is when someone runs into a line of cars parked at a light. Each car will technically only be easily able to sue the one behind it and in the end the guy who caused the crash will end up eating all the costs. But this is usually made a smooth process b
    • If Anarchists United puts up a canary, and the FBI serves a NSL, that says Anarchists United can't tell anybody. It isn't binding on other organizations like the EFF, which would require another order of even more shaky legality, or a law of really questionable constitutionality.

      Similarly, it was established with the 1960s Pentagon Papers that a citizen who comes into the possession of classified information may publish. Whoever supplied the classified material is in deep trouble, of course, probably a

    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      you are not responsible for my reaction.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @10:13AM (#48979521)
    There could also be a note on every user's account where they are told that there have been no secret legal demands for their data. Then of course this would vanish if there was one.

    Then there could even be a next next level canary where you could have a thing in your account profile that would have one canary for every single data seeking organization. Thus only certain ones would disappear. This would certainly scream first amendment among other generally unexplored legal area. But most importantly it would give people the ability they should have had all along which was to challenge any warrant both the companies and the individual. Right now people have been having trouble challenging this stuff in court because they couldn't "Prove" that they were a victim. This might cross that threshold of proof.

    Minimally it would allow these massive companies to finally have a toehold in which to bring their legal teams into action and cause serious problems for these bozos who think that they have found an easy backdoor to violating our rights.
  • What's to stop the govt. issuing an NSL to each, thereby clearing the canaries?

A continuing flow of paper is sufficient to continue the flow of paper. -- Dyer

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