How can you tell if MeFi was secretly subpoenaed a: you can't January 14, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Can we have a banner on top of MeFi similar to this famous library signs by Jessamyn. In the wake of the Twitter subpoena situation which seems to involve the electronic records of one of our members; it seems like some kind of sign indicating that "no secret subpoenas have been received sign" might be reassuring. Though I'm not sure of the legality not being a lawyer, etc.
posted by humanfont to Feature Requests at 5:46 PM (96 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This might make sense if we ever decide to use Metafilter to plan our next terrorist bombing. Otherwise, not so much.
posted by killdevil at 6:15 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


All they have on you behind the scenes here are IP addresses and PayPal accounts. If the Feds are after you then they already know all of that.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:20 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Otherwise, not so much.

The FBI has never been interested in anyone who wasn't a terrorist. apropos hamburger
posted by DU at 6:27 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The FBI did not interrogate me regarding subversive statements on Metafilter at any time between when I became a member and last Monday at 2:15 a.m., nor have they done so between last Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and the time of this comment. Just FYI.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:30 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


This might make sense if we ever decide to use Metafilter to plan our next terrorist bombing.

"there's no real good fit for MetaFilter for this type of activity and we don't have plans for setting aside space for such a thing."
posted by Dumsnill at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wait, how do you know there have been no secret subpoenas?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:35 PM on January 14, 2011


How do you know that I'm not outside your window staring at you?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:39 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


So which member are you referring to? Is Birgitta Jonsdottir or Rob Gonggrijp a member?
posted by joost de vries at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2011


which seems to involve the electronic records of one of our members

Who?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 PM on January 14, 2011


Judging from the tags, he means ioerror.
posted by Ritchie at 6:51 PM on January 14, 2011


Tx Ritchie. wikipedia
posted by joost de vries at 6:54 PM on January 14, 2011


Dude, I ratted on all you motherbitches.
posted by nevercalm at 7:01 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


No worries, we only fed you carefully controled counterinformation.
posted by joost de vries at 7:07 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


* repeat operation bluebird is compromised repeat *
posted by The Whelk at 7:11 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


So something like "It's been    6    days since responded to a subpoena?"
posted by crunchland at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, this guy is definitely the charming and brilliant but flawed evil genius from Die Hard 5. I won't accept any other explanation.
posted by doublehappy at 7:24 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the wake of the Twitter subpoena situation which seems to involve the electronic records of one of our members; it seems like some kind of sign indicating that "no secret subpoenas have been received sign" might be reassuring

Note: Everyone needs a sign indicating the government hasn't subpoenaed them or their records.

I don't know, I can sort of see (and agree with) the rationale behind it, but it also staggers a bit much into the overly paranoid territory, which is where the whole Wikileaks crowd likes to hang out.

A more practical approach might be to simply ask the mods what they'd do if database or records or even themselves were subpoenaed. Or at least ask them to consider the possibility. Or maybe not be so paranoid?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on January 14, 2011


> simply ask the mods what they'd do if database or records or even themselves were subpoenaed.

The site owner would be subpoenaed, and I doubt he's made of lawyers so if there's a valid court order then I'm sure there would be full compliance.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on January 14, 2011


Metafilter already has a notice about this.. it's right..

OH GOD!! OH GOD THEY"VE BEEN HERE!!!
posted by odinsdream at 7:50 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by infini at 8:18 PM on January 14, 2011


Some men in black suits just came to my door claiming to be the "hug patrol." What should I do?
posted by Navelgazer at 8:33 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tater them.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:35 PM on January 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Note: Everyone needs a bug.

/FBIed
posted by Ghidorah at 8:39 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


As long as they respect my NDAs, I'm cool with that ;p
posted by infini at 8:40 PM on January 14, 2011


This might make sense if we ever decide to use Metafilter to plan our next terrorist bombing. Otherwise, not so much.

The evildoers plan their terror attack encoded in Ask Metafilter questions about cat behavior. The links to pictures of kittehs are actually links to other coded messages. If you ever see a link to a cat wearing some sort of headwear, stay home and await for the shit to go down.
posted by birdherder at 8:46 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


> The links to pictures of kittehs are actually links to other coded messages.

Maybe here is as good place as any to ask what the hell is up with this cat?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 PM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


what the hell is up with this cat?

[zoidberg]That raccoon will feast like a KING![/zoidberg]
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:17 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


oh look, a pheasant.
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you know that I'm not outside your window staring at you?

Holy shit! Are you Jason Bourne?
posted by brundlefly at 9:31 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The company I use for my remote hosting has a "warrant canary" they use for this purposes.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:48 PM on January 14, 2011


What if the mods say no?

What if the mods say no???

posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 PM on January 14, 2011


This is one of those "you'll have to ask mathowie directly" situations though I can tell you that if I found out we'd gotten some sort of subpoena and it was supposed to be a sekrit I'd tell everyone I knew about it and say "really, you're going to put me in jail for this?" and then let my nice friends the EFF launch another case against gag orders which have actually been going pretty well over the past few years. All this is to say that if mathowie got a subpoena, he'd maybe be a little stupid to tell me about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 PM on January 14, 2011 [61 favorites]


warrant canary

I like it. How about a tiny icon of a canary just to the right of "MetaTalk" in the nav bar?
posted by Maximian at 10:09 PM on January 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


What if the mods say no?

What if the mods say no???


They're painting the roses red?
posted by doublehappy at 10:55 PM on January 14, 2011


yes and its making the violets blue
posted by infini at 11:31 PM on January 14, 2011


I like it. How about a tiny icon of a canary just to the right of "MetaTalk" in the nav bar?

please please please
posted by wayland at 11:50 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, as awesome as the tiny canary would be, I'm not sure what information the FBI could get with a subpoena that they couldn't get with a $5 account.
posted by wayland at 12:04 AM on January 15, 2011


I say no. It would be a crushing disappointment to many of our members to have a daily reminder of how uninteresting they are to the FBI. Of course, maybe that's just what I want you to think.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:15 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


If such a sign went up, it could never come down, hee.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 AM on January 15, 2011


Oh, for the record, Jessamyn's answer is pretty much what was xpected, 'cause she said similar years ago. So worry not my little wilkileakians, we have something spiffier than an Assange, with less drama.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:48 AM on January 15, 2011


Now I want a button that reads "I have not been served with a secret subpoena." to wear around all the time.
posted by loquacious at 1:05 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity, have these signs or warrant canaries or the like ever been tested legally? They seem to rest on the theory that the government can force you not to say the truth, but that they can't force you to lie. But since we're starting from the point of secret subpoenas served from secret courts with associated gag orders, I have a hard time imagining that the government would cavil at a little more coercion in order to keep you from tipping people off with the canary.
posted by hattifattener at 1:13 AM on January 15, 2011


Really, isn't the database already publicly available anyway? Though I guess it doesn't include memail traffic, does it? I'm sure that stuff is just loaded with juicy terrorist nuggets, Mr. G-man!
posted by crunchland at 2:51 AM on January 15, 2011


How do you know that I'm not outside your window staring at you?
Train just ran past. You'd be flattened.
posted by Namlit at 4:43 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Though I guess it doesn't include memail traffic

Kind of a shame, because an infodump of memail would be the only kind of infodump I'd be interested in reading, personally.

Can't one of the mods turn it over to Julian Assange? There's gotta be something in there worth leaking? He could get a team of volunteers from Boing Boing, Reddit and Yahoo Answers to work simultaneously on breaking the stories to the rest of the net.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


16th floor outside. You'd be floating.
posted by infini at 4:51 AM on January 15, 2011


*takes a bow for utter foolishness in not quoting suitable straight line for snark*

*paws through memail*

*covers self in found hugs*
posted by infini at 4:52 AM on January 15, 2011


I do assume that you're outside my window. That's why I leave the curtains open and dress so nice.
posted by metaBugs at 5:03 AM on January 15, 2011


infini: *covers self in found hugs*

Stolen. I think the word you're looking for is "stolen".
posted by gman at 5:29 AM on January 15, 2011


Matt hasn't answered yet...

My god, they're inside the server right now!!!!!!1!
posted by Mick at 5:38 AM on January 15, 2011


Stolen. I think the word you're looking for is "stolen".

They're digital copies, no one is short a hug.
posted by Mick at 5:39 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


So is this why Martha Stew-it has a skull in her kitchen? To scare them away?
posted by Namlit at 5:42 AM on January 15, 2011


If subpoenaed by the FBI, Matt will raise the maximum number of mefimails to 100 per hour, causing the feds to get bogged down in songs, happy words, book recommendations, funny links, and other fantastic prizes!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:45 AM on January 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure what information the FBI could get with a subpoena that they couldn't get with a $5 account.

They could find out who is responsible for all those anonymous relationship questions. Sure to be some good blackmail material in there. Not to mention, no one's sockpuppet would be safe.
posted by TedW at 5:49 AM on January 15, 2011


::continues to make notes in carefully concealed notebook::
posted by briank at 6:15 AM on January 15, 2011


I'm not outside your window, I'M ON YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2011


infini: *covers self in found hugs*

Stolen. I think the word you're looking for is "stolen".
posted by gman at 5:29 AM on January 15


*Ahem*

I found them in my own memail...

*knocks BB with the mouse*
posted by infini at 6:26 AM on January 15, 2011


loquacious: i want one of those buttons to wear on my favorite t-shirt!
posted by crush-onastick at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


ponders whether a secret sub pony might do?
posted by infini at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2011


I do assume that you're outside my window. That's why I leave the curtains open and dress so nice. walk around naked.
posted by arcticseal at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2011


If this new feature is implemented, could we also have some sort of sign confirming that MetaFilter is "Dolphin Free"?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


To everyone that's always so up in arms about "Dolphin Free" I have one question. Have you ever tasted dolphin? How do you know "Dolphin Free" is better? For once it might be nice to try "Tuna Free" dolphin. Just saying. Question your assumptions, people!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2011


Dolphin Free

DOLPHIN- IST
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2011


Dolphin is delicious! The smarter the animal, the better the meat.
posted by Mick at 8:08 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mick: "Dolphin is delicious! The smarter the animal, the better the meat."

That explains why we're not much into cannibalism these days.
posted by gman at 8:16 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Matt hasn't answered yet...

I did just lend him a couple of xbox games yesterday.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The dolphins work for the government. You'd be surprised what you can get for Fishy Treats and squeaky toys.
posted by XMLicious at 8:21 AM on January 15, 2011


Out of curiosity, have these signs or warrant canaries or the like ever been tested legally?

No, I don't think so, but the gag orders they are supposed to end run have been. This is an article about the CT librarians who received a PATRIOT ACT national security letter and then challenged the associated gag order. The notices are mostly just a cute fiction to indicate "hey we take this sort of stuff seriously and are concerned about you, the users."

Here at MeFi we don't keep an awful lot of data in the first place [logfile-wise] but we do have IP addresses and a small amount of other information. Mathowie is not made of lawyers but he does have a lawyer and you can bet he'd be consulting them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead of a canary can we have this picture and can we have it on every page?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:47 AM on January 15, 2011


The dolphins work for the government

Nope, they're on the side of the mole men
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on January 15, 2011


Does anyone else feel like the fiery eye of Mordor is turning this way.....
posted by pearlybob at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am imagining Voltron, but with lawyers.
posted by XMLicious at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Been trying to get this guy to talk.

"smelt only, and remove his red ball"
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 AM on January 15, 2011


●●
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2011


Here's what I would do if served with a secret subpoena: immediately file a 1st amendment lawsuit. By the time the government got the court to seal my lawsuit (which would take at least 24 hours) the news would be out about the subpoena, and unless the government is going to gag the whole internet, it would stay out. This tactic doesn't even require me to tell anyone other than the court. It does, however, require the public to closely monitor federal court filings, which can be done easily now that civil complaints can be filed electronically. (Up until just a few years ago you had to file the initial complaint in hard copy, even though the subsequent documents could all be filed electronically.)
posted by yarly at 10:08 AM on January 15, 2011


Mathowie is not made of lawyers

Oh.

Apparently, I have been basing my entire life on a faulty premise.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mathowie is not made of lawyers

perhaps not completely, no - but he does contain a high percentage of lawyer as compared with my control group of Asian schoolchildren who speak more than two foreign languages. How you explain THAT?
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2011


not enough Lawyer in the diet.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on January 15, 2011


"Cute fiction" and "my rights are being taken seriously" don't really mesh for me.

But I'm one of those silly people who thinks that things done in public are by definition not private. And who believes that the internet is inherently public. So my rights aren't being violated if someone subpoenas some website or my library, because that information would be accessible by anyone who owns a router my packets have traversed, or who walked past me in a library.
posted by gjc at 1:11 PM on January 15, 2011


information would be accessible by anyone who owns a router my packets have traversed, or who walked past me in a library.

No. A person walking past you in the library could see what you were reading, not a list of everything that you've ever checked out. Massive difference. Your reading interests are not a matter of public record, and bloody well shouldn't ever be.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:21 PM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So my rights aren't being violated if someone subpoenas some website or my library, because that information would be accessible by anyone who owns a router my packets have traversed, or who walked past me in a library.

It's surprising actually how many libraries have in-house servers for library transaction data. So some of this stuff actually hasn't made its way on to the internet. And all fifty states have some sort of law on the books about the privacy of patron data [often including how to deal with requests for data from legal officials], which is sort of important because many other data transactions that are handled by public institutions are in some way public. This sort of thing can cause small shitstorms in small communities when law enforcement asks nicely for patron data but didn't bring a search warrant for it.

That said, MetaFilter is not a library. If you were a patron at the library where I worked, I'd take the privacy of your patrons records seriously.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on January 15, 2011


"METAFILTER -- No subpoenas yet!"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:48 PM on January 15, 2011


Not that long ago, I got a call with caller ID "Government." The person on the line said he was doing a security clearance on someone I know. He asked me about the nature of my residence, and at one point mentioned that he thought it was unusual for someone not to have a name or identifying number on their doorway in the hall. That doorway is behind the locked street door, and another locked stairway door, and up three flights of stairs. First I told him that I just hadn't got around to it, and that the other tenants in the building couldn't agree on how the doors should be numbered anyway. Then I asked when he'd observed the door. "An hour ago." "I was home then, did you knock, or call, or ring the doorbell?" "No, I was just observing the nature of your residence."
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Been trying to get this guy to talk.

You're using the wrong tuna.
posted by arcticseal at 4:35 PM on January 15, 2011


Metafilter: We're not a library.
posted by jourman2 at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2011


That said, MetaFilter is not a library. If you were a patron at the library where I worked, I'd take the privacy of your patrons records seriously. --- Does this mean you don't take the privacy of Metafilter users seriously, or as seriously?
posted by crunchland at 4:53 PM on January 15, 2011


...chicken of the see articseal? (release Hoover fellas, he'll talk...some day.

come now crunchy, a bit of a low blow ya?
posted by clavdivs at 5:16 PM on January 15, 2011


We're out of lawyer, try the priest.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:42 PM on January 15, 2011


I think mostly it means that Metafilter isn't a library and is unlike a library in a whole lot of ways, not least of which being the fact that we don't have the sorts of records about you that a library does. Because we're not a library.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:46 PM on January 15, 2011


Does this mean you don't take the privacy of Metafilter users seriously, or as seriously?

No, but they're different situations. There aren't state laws that legislate the privacy of user data on MetaFilter, for the most part. mathowie is the ultimate arbiter of what records are given up to whom here. I have strong feelings personally about privacy in all cases, but the feds aren't going to be coming to my door for server logs. If they did, I'd tell them to talk to Matt. I've already said that I'd blab that the feds were here as much as I possibly could.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on January 15, 2011


mathowie is the ultimate arbiter of what records are given up to whom here.

"In my own tests, it only takes a 9V battery on my nuts before I sing like a bird."
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:23 PM on January 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


come now crunchy, a bit of a low blow ya? --- how do you figure? I figured what she wrote begged the question. I certainly didn't mean anything by it.
posted by crunchland at 6:44 PM on January 15, 2011


Metafilter: A Majority of our users have not been identified as enemies of the state – yet!
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:15 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi FBI I´m posting from a communist country; *waves*; also I have been to Cuba.
posted by adamvasco at 3:10 AM on January 18, 2011


I'm not any enemy of the state, more like somewhat irritating but generally because of my movie collection roommate.

The state does wish that I'd chip in a big more funds for war night, but screw that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 AM on January 18, 2011


That said, MetaFilter is not a library.
You mean I've been standing in the checkout line with an armful of AskMe questions for nothing?

Generally speaking, since around 1992 or so when it was clear that this whole internet thing wasn't going to be a passing phase, I've taking the attitude that I avoid posting or otherwise making available anything that I didn't want immediately and irrevocably plastered on every wall in existence.

So subpoena Metafilter for my information all you want, FBI. About all you'll find is that I was responsible for the Pepsi Blue post (meta info here) and a bunch of posts/comments about Trisomy 21. I don't precisely how that might be used against me in court, but give it your best shot.
posted by plinth at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2011


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