[Support-team] warrant canaries controversy?

Jaime Villarreal jaimev at mayfirst.org
Wed Nov 23 14:43:01 EST 2016


Since we're all top posting :) ... I agree with everything jamie has
commented about the riseup canary and I'd just add that their last
statement/tweet seems to me suggest that if they did receive a gag order
they do not feel the implications meet their criteria for pulling the
plug on the servers which they have previously framed as repressive
government surveillance of activists.

Still, seeing the confusion that these cryptic tweets have provoked we
may want to have better comms prepared for if and when such a thing were
to happen to MFPL again.

I also don't think there is a legal precedent for forcing an org to
falsify something like a canary statement however I think it is very
likely that law enforcement is aware of this technique and would attempt
to force legal compliance in a shorter period of time because of it. So
that is something else MFPL should be prepared for.

Also, given the sensitive nature of the subject I wonder if we shouldn't
consider encrypting our e-mails to this list. There are currently 33
subscribers though and I don't have all of your keys :(

Jaime

On 11/23/2016 09:52 AM, Jamie McClelland wrote:
> Hi all,
> 
> I think is public knowledge that the organization you are referring to
> is Riseup.  And I don't think there is a need for conspiracy theories to
> explain what they is doing.
> 
> The Canary is doing exactly what it is supposed do - letting us know
> that Riseup has received a legal request that comes with some form of a
> gag order. Riseup has decided that explaining the situation would put
> them in legal jeopardy and by not updating their canary, they are able
> to communicate that something is happening without the legal jeopardy.
> 
> In my experience, Riseup has always acted with incredible integrity and
> commitment to their users and I have no doubt they are doing that now,
> even if they can't tell us about it.
> 
> Mallory - I'm not sure what it would mean to have a gag order
> stipulating against a warrent canary? I've never heard of a gag order
> that stipulated that you had to update your canary with incorrect
> information. In any event, Riseup is clearly not doing that!
> 
> May First/People Link's privacy policy states that it is our policy to
> always notify a member if they are being investigated.
> 
> https://mayfirst.org/en/privacy-policy/
> 
> In our experience, we have received both "requests" that we don't notify
> members that they are being investigated and formal gag orders
> stipulating that by law you cannot notify the member.
> 
> We don't have a rigid policy - since in all cases we have to balance the
> legal situation with the bigger political situation and try to make the
> best decision possible. In the past, that has mean going *against* our
> lawyer's advice (in the case of notifying members when we have recieved
> a "request" not to).
> 
> We have also received a formal 6 month gag order (see the last entry
> here: https://support.mayfirst.org/wiki/legal).
> 
> In the case of the Athens IMC, we decided to follow the gag order
> because we had already notified them before the gag order was placed.
> So, we never went down the path of contemplating breaking it. I wouldn't
> advise you to use stackexchange for your legal advice, but this post was
> interesting:
> https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/2033/what-are-the-consequences-of-not-following-a-gag-order
> 
> jamie
> 
> On Wed Nov 23, Mallory Knodel wrote:
>> James
>>
>> Agree that having a backup plan to a warrant canary is good. But,
>> they'll just catch on to that, too. I assume that the gag order they
>> received stipulated against a warrant canary.
>>
>> So whatever tactic is then widely adopted and understood by everyone
>> will soon be included as a stipulation, too.
>>
>> This is a cat mouse game.
>>
>> And I find everyone's freak out over this the most worrying part,
>> frankly. It certainly has the feds laughing.
>>
>> -Mallory
>>
>> On 23/11/16 08:26 AM, James Sheldon wrote:
>>> There is apparently a controversy about a rather prominent
>>> left-anarchist hosting service's warrant canary not being updated, and
>>> although it seems like most of the people commenting it are merely
>>> indulging in conspiracy theory and have no actual evidence backing up
>>> any of their claims ... it makes me wonder what the implications of
>>> this sort of thing would be for mayfirst and what we would do if we
>>> were faced with a similar situation.  Hopefully we have a better plan
>>> in place than just "tweet cryptic messages" and make people try to
>>> read between the lines... which seems to be what that particular host
>>> is doing.   Anyways, I was hoping that someone might be able to
>>> contextualize what's going on, so that I am not relying on rather
>>> unreliable social media to understand what this sort of situation
>>> might mean.
>>>
>>> James
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>>
>> -- 
>> Mallory Knodel
>> May First/People Link :: mayfirst.org
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