Warrant canaries — which tech companies are using to tell people that the government is NOT using secret orders — are the new frontline in the legal fight over surveillance.

Tech companies from Apple to Tumblr, faced with a growing number of secret orders from the government, have resorted to a clever legal tactic known as a warrant canary: the “canary,” popularized by libraries in the wake of the Patriot Act, is a sign that tells the public that an organization is not being investigated by the FBI. If the canary disappears, well, you can assume the worst:

Now, the federal government is trying to snuff out the use of canaries altogether, telling Twitter that it is forbidden from using “zero” when it reports on security demands in its Transparency Reports, the semi-annual documents used by Twitter and other tech companies to report on FBI and NSA demands.

The fact this there is a fight over “zero” and warrant canaries is revealed through a close reading of the lawsuit that Twitter filed against the Justice Department this week. The lawsuit, which claims the government security demands violate Twitter’s free speech rights, repeatedly asks the court to declare that it may use “zero” when stating whether it has been subject to various secret legal orders from the government…

Through its lawsuit, Twitter claims it has a First Amendment right to use warrant canaries to say whether or not it has received various categories of so-called NSL letters and FISA requests — secret orders that can subject the companies to criminal prosecution if they even disclose the existence of the letters in the first place…

Feel the need to sit around and discuss whether or not our government has the right not only to limit speech but ban your right to tell anyone it’s happening? It is the polar opposite of transparency.

  1. AdmFubar says:

    remember: “THE CLOUD IS A TRAP”

  2. Time Killer says:

    Did anyone watch “60 Minutes” Sunday (10/12/14)?

    Our current FBI Director and former Deputy Attorney General, James Comey summed it up best: “The Internet is the most dangerous parking lot imaginable.” Scott Pelley explained that quote as, “… online, you’ll get mugged in ways that you never saw coming.” So clearly, there is a need for law enforcement when people are harmed (though usually financially) as a result of devious online activity.

    But then Comey went on to say, “I believe that American’s should be deeply skeptical of government power. You can not trust people in power. The founders knew that. That’s why they divided power among three branches, to set interest against interest.” But what struck me most was how Comey went on to say how he was worried that Apple and Google now have the power to up end the rule of law.

    So yes! This fight about cops with gag orders in their pockets is something to be concerned about. But I doubt the threat is actually coming from the FBI. Rather, it’s coming from a different group of thugs — some of whom don’t even have badges!

    … Thought I’d point that out since it’s a little to easy to lump every snooping asshole into one big pile of assholes — they’re not ALL assholes! Nevertheless, you might just as well substitute that graphic and replace the letters “FBI” for “NSA” or even “Google” if you give a damn about journalistic accuracy. (Or maybe you haven’t been paying attention to all the bullshit censoring going on with YouTube either.)

  3. t0llyb0ng says:

    The time to kill that accursed Patriot Act was when Congress came back from vacation in September of 2013.  Should have been the first item on the agenda & should have taken a half hour max to get ‘er done.  A year later, Congress came back from vacation, nothing happened & not a peep was heard from the useless mainstream media.  It has become obvious that nothing will ever turn the surveillance state around.  They are not the slightest bit interested in self-examination or changing their ways.  Your protestations are of no moment to them whatsoever.

    How much do we spend on our massive black budgets?  No one even knows.  The accounting has fallen apart.  They don’t even bother pretending anymore.  The surveillance state & its trumped-up, endless wars has a voracious appetite for the phony dollars it prints up & is self-perpetuating.  The governance of Gitmo Nation is in a sick state & nothing can heal it.

    NPR is becoming un-listen-to-able because of the incessant propaganda.  NYT = Pravda.

    Good day, comrade citizen.

  4. MikeN says:

    As liberal First Amendment lawyer James Goodale has put it, “President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.”

  5. How far? says:

    Do you believe the federal government has ANY obligation to protect U.S. interests with respect to the Internet as a means of commerce and social freedom of speech?

    If so, what are those obligations and limits?

    • lame (hermorphroditic) says:

      you’re one of those cheeze likin’ dudes that got flashed with a tit too much SchoolHouse Rock and still think ‘laws’ come from ‘bills’ and congress and stuff.


      • Still Small Voice Syestem says:

        ^^ he pawnd 4-tits again

        ^^ Shai Hulud

        — pwnd again. carry on. nothing new, ehh? under the sun, ehh?

        ^^ i’ve a good little doggie.

      • How far? says:

        Obvious, no intelligent life here. Like a turd, are you just passing through?

        • lame (hermorphroditic) says:

          like a swallowed pile of nickels was i, ‘just passing through’, just working myself out … but now, i’m dragging quite the little entourage behind me. Nickel allergy. How the fuck does that happen to a tract of bowel???

  6. MikeN says:

    First control the Secret Service making up fake warrants to investigate people.


    Then they started searching everyone on a golf course because the president decided he wanted to play. “Are you refusing to comply?”

    Any time he visits somewhere, they shut down air traffic for a large area, taking away lots of money from small plane operators.


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