Apple includes a warrant canary in transparency report November 6, 2013 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Taking their lead from jessamyn, Apple has included a warrant canary in their transparency report.
"Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us."
jessamyn created the warrant canary in response to the USA Patriot Act, which permits warrantless searches of library records and prohibits the library from making the existence of these searches known. It does not explicitly prohibit the library from stating that it has not received any secret search warrants. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first use of a warrant canary by a big, high-profile organization. Nice work, jessamyn!
posted by workerant to MetaFilter-Related at 7:17 AM (79 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, I saw that and the first thing that came to mind was Jessamyn's signs.

That said, I'm not sure Apple was taking their lead from Metafilter. There's plenty of smart people moderating this site or that work for Apple.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or is Jessamyn working for Google? If that really is your name?!
posted by arcticseal at 7:27 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have never received a letter from Jessamyn indicating that she is working for Google.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 AM on November 6, 2013 [115 favorites]


Yay! I always thought that sign was a clever and very brave thing to do, especially at the time when people were swept up in the hysteria and not necessarily thinking clearly or supporting/appreciating people who were concerned with civil rights.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not currently a cannibal.
posted by ColdChef at 7:44 AM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Up to this date, I have never trolled AskMe with made-up anonymous relationship questions.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:47 AM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had a similar sign I used to wear around my neck but I had to remove it. I don't want to say what it was for.
posted by bondcliff at 7:48 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


A letter? What about a number?
posted by Melismata at 7:48 AM on November 6, 2013


A letter? What about a number?

$20, same as in town.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:49 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I knew about Jessamyn and the FBI sign before I knew about Metafilter. The post-9/11 period was really strange, in retrospect: I was terrified about the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism (my best friend had just moved to DC and the sniper thing was going on; maybe the world was ending?), but the Patriot Act seemed dreadful. Only no one was saying that.

Jessamyn was one of the very few voices who was speaking up for not submitting to privacy invasion. Not just going along with the government. My fresh-out-of-college brain was blown by the idea of radical librarians. That sign, and my shift in perspective that resulted, was really important to me then, and I'm grateful still for it now.
posted by purpleclover at 8:32 AM on November 6, 2013 [29 favorites]


I have not yet been ordered by a secret court on pain of incarceration to continue posting my customary warrant canaries in order to mislead my patrons into believing that the FBI has still not been here. Watch very closely for the disappearance of this librarian.
posted by flabdablet at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Beat me to it, flabdablet.
posted by tyllwin at 9:18 AM on November 6, 2013


It's interesting that the White House's own "We are not and will not bug ya" is a perfect inversion of Jessamyn's formulation.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:22 AM on November 6, 2013


I wonder if she's ever had occasion to take down the sign?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:23 AM on November 6, 2013


The Sleestak have not been here. Watch very closely for the removal of this Pylon crystal.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:27 AM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have never received a fan letter from Joss Whedon, Banksy, Miley Cyrus or Rand Paul. If this comment should be deleted, you can just keep guessing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:30 AM on November 6, 2013


I have never
posted by iamkimiam at 9:37 AM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Uh oh. Looks like I spoke too soon. The Pylon crystal is gone.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:39 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not currently a cannibal.

I have never been so unexpectedly simultaneously relieved and distressed.
posted by plinth at 9:56 AM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


So cool. Among the many wonderful things about Jessamyn and great things she has done, the "canary" sign is my absolute favorite. Good for Apple, too.
posted by bearwife at 10:04 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish I could take more personal credit for this, it was something that a reader suggested and that just sort of hit the zeitgeist at a particular time when I wrote about it.

Amusingly right now I am AT the library reading a friend's pre-publication law paper on the nature of privacy defaults in software mechanisms (Summary: Why don't we have privacy by default? Answer: capitalism and iamnotgoodatcomputer!) red-penning a bunch of suggestions. At the same time, I've changed my facbeook name to include a lot of umlauts (Jessamÿn Wësţ if you're looking for me) because they finally forced everyone over to the "everyone can search for you by name" default setting.

It's not even so much that I dislike the government or big business or even small businesses, just that I think it's worthwhile to make sure you have people's informed consent when you are trading in their information and that people should be allowed to fully understand, on their terms, what is being done with their personal information. This is not currently the case. We're sort of uptight about this in the library world and always have been but it's only been in the past decade or so when our approach has seemed so at odds with a lot of the rest of the country (in the US).
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2013 [53 favorites]


My brains are not currently being eaten out of my open skull by ColdChef.
posted by biffa at 10:38 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know who else uses a lot of umlauts in their names? That's right: Sleestaks.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:38 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jessamÿn Wësţ

Great band name.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:39 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am not currently a cannibal.

I can make the same claim, but only because I am not currently eating anyone.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:47 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the same time, I've changed my facebook name to include a lot of umlauts

This is a great idea. Never been happy that you have to be on top of, stay an expert on, Facebook security settings. For a few family-related reasons to Facebook specifically, try to keep who can do what with my stuff on there tight, but it's a bind.

Following Jessamyn's lead, have changed my FB name so it contains some Icelandic alphabet characters. Very quick and easy to do. And it's probably only correctly pronounceable by Jónsi from Sigur Rós singing it now, which will be useful if FB rolls out search-by-speech at any point.
posted by Wordshore at 10:47 AM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know why my brain refuses to accept "canary" as a word. Every time I read the title of this thread I think "canard? canarsie? what is this thread about."

why brain. why
posted by elizardbits at 10:51 AM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I blame badBRAIN: Canary Edition
posted by filthy light thief at 10:53 AM on November 6, 2013


I blame Bad Brains because it's easy to dislike someone named HR!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can there be a picture of a canary on it?
posted by discopolo at 11:17 AM on November 6, 2013


I blame Bad Brains because it's easy to dislike someone named HR!

As someone who has started many askme responses with "HR here", I totally KNEW there was an institutional bias against me. Now I have proof.

SUCCESS!!!


It's not even so much that I dislike the government or big business or even small businesses, just that I think it's worthwhile to make sure you have people's informed consent when you are trading in their information and that people should be allowed to fully understand, on their terms, what is being done with their personal information. This is not currently the case.

This makes sense, but what I have a REALLY hard time coming to terms with is people who actually believe that the info they load up on various social networking apps and sites is somehow inaccessible by other people.

Why would you think that? They ask you this info, so they can tell others that same info for ca$hola. Facebook is not your friend. He's your pimp, and he's going to tell everyone everything about you so he can make money off you.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


rsync.net, a long-running remote storage provider, has had a warrant canary for years now -- quite explicitly, it is titled "warrant canary", includes a PGP-signed message that contains recent news headlines, and advises "Special note should be taken if these messages ever cease being updated, or are removed from this page". I used to think it was a tad paranoid; not so much these days.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:58 AM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


First to LOL about FBI library hacks
I hide in plain sight talking shit about the Sleestaks
I live my life like a canÿrd on a weblog
The Internet can’t even tell that I’m a big dog

Nothing to see here, and I’m nothing so alarming
Pay no attention to my huge sockpuppet army
I live my life like a canÿrd on a weblog
The Internet can’t even tell that I’m a big dog

Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog

Now if I tell you that I suffer from delusions
Let’s hope Homeland Security will reach the same conclusions
I live my life like a canÿrd on a weblog
The Internet can’t even tell that I’m a big dog

Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog

First to LOL about FBI library hacks
I hide in plain sight talking shit about the Sleestaks
I live my life like a canÿrd on a weblog
The Internet can’t even tell that I’m a big dog

Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog
Canÿrd on a weblog...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:10 PM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know why my brain refuses to accept "canary" as a word. Every time I read the title of this thread I think "canard? canarsie? what is this thread about."

why brain. why


clearly you are prejudice against bird.
posted by KathrynT at 12:17 PM on November 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


and bird is pissed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:31 PM on November 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


~*MISAVIARY*~
posted by elizardbits at 12:33 PM on November 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Canard" is duck in French, so you could still use "canards in a coal mine" for the metaphor and keep the original birdie sense.

One assumes that ducks would be more resistant to the toxic gases than canaries, however, so probably best not to use this technique if you are involved in actual mining.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:07 PM on November 6, 2013


I've always liked the idea of that sign, but I do wonder about it's actual value. My assumption has been that the FBI or NSA could do a secret visit and, along with insisting that you don't tell anyone, require that the sign stay up. Have there been any actual court tests of this?
posted by Dip Flash at 1:14 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rob Ford had been doing something similar up until yesterday by more or less saying "I am not smoking crack right now" any time he was asked on the subject. So it can be used for both good or otherwise.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:21 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


[this comment has been deleted]
posted by aubilenon at 2:34 PM on November 6, 2013


May I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is currently no cannibalism on MetaFilter. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount.
posted by usonian at 2:40 PM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Canard" is duck in French, so you could still use "canards in a coal mine" for the metaphor and keep the original birdie sense.

[reduckted]
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:40 PM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


You're detthhpicable!!
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:03 PM on November 6, 2013


May I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is currently no cannibalism on MetaFilter.

Not ON Metafilter ...but the private meetups.....
posted by The Whelk at 3:07 PM on November 6, 2013


Neat unicode table for grabbing alternative versions of letters for your facebook names:

http://unicode-table.com/en/#0198

Facebook refused a few choices I made telling me that I'm required to use my own name. Which makes me think that they're doing some sort of internal re-mapping of special versions of characters back to the basic unmodified versions. If that's the case then this technique may not even work in terms of preventing searches by name because presumably they're smart enough to compare names mapped back to unmodified characters only.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn is so cool.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:23 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


...there is currently no cannibalism on MetaFilter.

Yeah but we came this close with that "right hand" incident.
posted by edgeways at 3:45 PM on November 6, 2013


I agree with Dipflash - I am now so jaded and cynical about the whole thing that I can see the NSA explicitly prohibiting the removal of a dead canary after a warrant *has* been served, or even insisting that one is put up after a warrant was served. Strange times.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:10 PM on November 6, 2013


MetaFilter: Look, matey, we know a dead canary when we see one, and we're looking at one right now.

NSA: No, no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the canary, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

MetaFilter: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

NSA: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


clearly you are prejudice against bird.

I think, rather, it was being forced to read that novel, Canary Row in High School. That happened to a lot of us. Another novel with similar effects is Of Mynahs and Men.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:44 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bad enough that ponies had to work in the mines, but ducks? That's cruel and pointless. They can't even pull much coal.
posted by Area Man at 5:55 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


sweet. oh man maybe it'll be in the history books, yeah? i bet it will be. sweet.
posted by angrycat at 6:00 PM on November 6, 2013


Surely it will at least be recorded in the Librarianiad, the epic of librarian-heroes.
posted by XMLicious at 6:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


IRFH - I see my strategically placed nerdwhistle was effective!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:25 PM on November 6, 2013


jessamyn: "Jessamÿn Wësţ if you're looking for me"

HOLY CRAP

TIL you can put a cedilla on a T!
posted by danny the boy at 6:33 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those wacky Romanians.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:02 PM on November 6, 2013


S҉̪̜͍̝̻̭̥H͖̰͕͚͈ͅ È͚̲ ҉̞  C̩̹ O̧͔̙̠̬̜̳ͅ M̱͍̤ E̟̺̤͙ S̜͍ͅ
posted by flabdablet at 7:27 PM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


TIL you can put a cedilla on a T!

Oh... I wiped at my screen thinking it was a bit of debris
posted by edgeways at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2013


TIL you can put a cedilla on a T!

It gives it a ts sound. So one of my favorite words in Romanian linguriţă is pronounces roughly lin-goo-REETZ-uh.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gesundheit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:34 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


BTW I just tried using accent characters in Facebook and it seems to ignore them. ie I search for a friend, let's say Gïna and it found Gina just fine.
posted by like_neon at 4:42 AM on November 7, 2013


[this comment was never even posted in the first place]
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:11 AM on November 7, 2013


By reading this order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act you are denying its existence and implying consent.
posted by Segundus at 6:29 AM on November 7, 2013


Is this where I redeem my Canary warranty? I bought the extended warranty and it won't die when exposed toxic gas. Already killed ten, twenty, something like that, of my best men. But I keep hoping it'll be better next time.
posted by lordaych at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2013


By reading this sentence you agree to give forty million nickels to the NSA nickels for neighbors initiative. For the month of November anyone who turns in their neighbor as a possible terrorist or practitioner of witchcraft gets a sack of nickels. You are to provide the seed nickel investment. Scanning the sentence does not absolve you. If you're still reading and having doubts, that is treason.
posted by lordaych at 8:16 AM on November 7, 2013


So one of my favorite words in Romanian linguriţă is pronounces roughly lin-goo-REETZ-uh.

I'm told it's good on pizza.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:28 AM on November 7, 2013


The accent letters thing is mainly a fun way to make a statement that you'll get to explain a lot and technically doesn't stop them from doing anything. But I appreciate the sentiment, I turned my photo into some weird African mandala symbol awhile ago just to kind of detach myself in spirit
posted by lordaych at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2013


We have never received a letter from Jessamyn indicating that she is working for Google.

Always never?
posted by Pudhoho at 1:05 PM on November 7, 2013


I just tried using accent characters in Facebook and it seems to ignore them. ie I search for a friend, let's say Gïna and it found Gina just fine.

If you search for a FB friend, it will find your friend, regardless of the accented letters. But if you search for someone who is not on your FB friend list, then the accents should flummox your search. For example, Jessamyn and I are not FB friends, so if I search for Jessamyn without all her wacky characters, she does not show up for me.
posted by gubenuj at 7:32 PM on November 7, 2013


so if I search for Jessamyn without all her wacky characters, she does not show up for me.

It would be pretty trivial for them to change this, just by indexing all names in their closest-ASCII equivalent for search purposes. I'm kinda surprised they don't already.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:19 PM on November 7, 2013


Couldn't anyone say they've "never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act," especially those who actually have? It seems to me like the perfect spin for a corporation that actually has received one (or more than one.) For a library, there isn't much incentive to deceive people about it. For a corporation, there is plenty.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:22 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "You know who else uses a lot of umlauts in their names? That's right: Sleestaks."

Yes, but probably the result of a typo. Facebook pylon user interface is crap.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:23 PM on November 7, 2013


By reading this sentence, you owe me money. Canary extortion.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:45 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Couldn't anyone say they've "never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act," especially those who actually have?

In fact any such order would likely be accompanied by a National Security Letter ordering the recipient not only to say exactly that but to continue saying so, if that had been their prior practice, in whatever way is required to avoid revealing the existence of the order to any third party.

The warrant canary is a cute idea but in practice it seems to me to be no match for the powers of a police state unless the person posting it really is prepared to risk defying a court order - in which case they may as well just tell people about it in a straightforward manner, without all the fooling about with signs and whatnot.
posted by flabdablet at 4:33 AM on November 8, 2013


In spite of this, Metafilter does not have a warrant canary, nor does it protect user data via limited data retention.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:42 AM on November 8, 2013


We do and we don't. We toss out a lot of our logfiles after very little time. We save IP and Paypal addresses. We're clear and communicative about what we do and do not save and what we do and do not share under which circumstances. I would find a way to tell people if we got a warrant. I do not believe in the gag order (that said, Matt might be smart to not tell me). People who sign up here by sending $5 in the mail and coming through a proxy are basically anonymous to us if they do not share their personal information. You can grump about the site all you want, but we work pretty hard on maintaining integrity.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was going to change my name but Facebook said it was against the terms of service. I guess I'll have to settle for being extremely annoyed at them for the fiftieth (roughly) thing they've done. I'm proud of the fact that I still haven't got a banner image, and I use FB Purity religiously, and half the stuff I would have said there five years ago I just don't anymore. And they wonder why the kids these days (like all five of my siblings) rarely if ever log on. My older brother actually deleted his account.

Also, I totally thought of Jessamyn first when I saw the story, but then I found out the idea came from cyberpunks or something.

My siblings admittedly probably don't log on/post in part because all four of our living parents are on, and two of them are regular posters. I'm just one of those "I had one of the first thousand Friendster accounts" freaks.
posted by SMPA at 5:07 PM on November 8, 2013


Matt might be smart to not tell me

He'd be flouting the gag order if he did.
posted by flabdablet at 8:53 PM on November 8, 2013


I guess if you're trying to make it inconvenient for the NSA to mess with you and not be noticed, the best thing would be to pick some log files that (a) won't violate user privacy but (b) will look different depending on what's being done with said data at the time, including eg. file access times, outgoing network connections, and other "read only" stuff; and then publish those log files as RSS feeds.

The information isn't very useful, but a certain type of Internet Person could graph it against the things that you say you are doing with your site and see that--hey--suddenly the growth rate of the frequency of access to the chat logs is N times the growth rate of the userbase, but now it's 3N. They said it was because of that new feature, but when I use that library myself, it doesn't do that. That's weird...

Of course that kind of monitoring is prone to false positives, but really no more so than the type of monitoring that the NSA does.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:08 AM on November 9, 2013


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