Canary Watch...Poof Goes Another

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by sallysock, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. sallysock Member

    I was unable to find an existing thread on the forum appropriate for recent developments.Canary Background at bottom.

    Technology | Fri Apr 1, 2016 9:12pm EDT
    Reddit change sparks concerns about U.S. government spying

    WASHINGTON | By Dustin Volz
    Reuters/Robert Galbraith

    Digital privacy advocates and users of Reddit expressed their alarm on Friday over a change in the forum's transparency report that suggested it may have been asked to give customer data to FBI investigators under a secretive government authority.

    The annual report lists a variety of requests the site has received for information on users and for removal of content. On Thursday, Reddit deleted a paragraph known as a "warrant canary."

    The paragraph had said that Reddit had not been subject to national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval, or "any other classified request for user information."

    Privacy advocates have long contested the letters, saying they are not subject to sufficient judicial oversight or transparency safeguards.
    Brett Max Kaufman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Friday that authorities were possibly seeking the IP address, or an identifying number that corresponds to a specific computer, of an anonymous user on Reddit.

    Private messages between users could also be subject to search.
    Reddit collects relatively little customer data that could be subject to a national security letter and useful for investigators, Kaufman said.

    Reddit does not require users to reveal their identities and stores less customer data overall compared to email or other social media such as Facebook, he said.
    Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who gave classified documents about U.S. spying to journalists in 2013, expressed concern on Twitter.

    "Is dissent a threat to national security?" tweeted Snowden (@Snowden), whose leaks prompted a vigorous international debate about digital privacy and surveillance.

    The leaks helped popularize the use of "warrant canaries" by tech firms eager to display resistance to government attempts to obtain access to user data.

    "When you ask someone 'Are you helping authorities in investigations?' and they say 'I'm not allowed to discuss that with you,' I think the question has been answered," wrote Reddit user khegiobridge.

    National security letters are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data, making it difficult for firms to openly discuss how they handle the subpoenas.

    That has led many companies to rely on somewhat vague warnings. Apple previously had a "warrant canary" but removed it in 2014.


    Warrant Canary@WarrantCanary

    Receiving reports that @reddit 's warrant canary has died. Here is what Spez (founder and CEO) had to say: …

    About Canaries:


    What is a warrant canary?

    A warrant canary is a colloquial term for a regularly published statement that a service provider has not received legal process (like a national security letter) that it would be prohibited from disclosing to the public. Once a service provider does receive legal process, the speech prohibition goes into place, and the provider no longer makes the statement about the number of such process received.

    Warrant canaries are often provided in conjunction with a transparency report, listing the processes the service provider can publicly say it received over the course of a particular time period. The term "warrant canary" is a reference to the canaries used to provide warnings in coalmines, which would become sick before miners from carbon monoxide poisoning, warning of the otherwise-invisible danger.

    How do warrant canaries work in theory?

    When a warrant canary "dies" (disappears, is not updated, etc.), provider no longer makes the statement about the number of such process received.

    For example, an ISP might issue a semi-annual transparency report, stating that it had not received any national security letters in a particular six-month period. NSLs come with a gag, which purports to prevent the recipient from saying it has received one.

    (While a federal court has ruled that the NSL gag is unconstitutional, that order is currently stayed pending the resolution of the government's appeal). When the ISP issues a subsequent transparency report without that statement, the reader may infer from the silence that the ISP has now received an NSL.

    FAQs Watch overview and site lists/reports:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Ask me anything Reddit-

    We are ACLU lawyers and Nick Merrill of Calyx Institute. We’re here to talk about National Security Letters and warrant canaries, because Reddit can’t. AUA.

    Last week, a so-called “warrant canary” in Reddit’s 2014 transparency report -- affirming that the company had never received a national security–related request for user information -- disappeared from its 2015 report. What might have happened? What does it mean? And what can we do now?

    A bit about us: More than a decade ago, Nick Merrill, who ran a small Internet-access and consulting business, received a secretive demand for customer information from the FBI. Nick came to the ACLU for help, and together we fought in court to strike down parts of the NSL statute as unconstitutional — twice. Nick was the first person to challenge an NSL and the first person to be fully released from the NSL's gag order.

  3. Ann O'Nymous Member

  4. Sue, just wondering about it here?


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