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Rsync.net Warrant Canary
32 points by DASD on June 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 1 comment
With all of the submissions regarding the collection of personal data, rsync commented about a feature they have with their service referred to as a warrant canary. Hopefully this is of interest as many are still not familiar with them.



Providing some context and clickable links:


  A warrant canary is a method used by an Internet service
  provider to inform their customers that the provider has
  not been served with a secret government subpoena. Such
  subpoenas, including those covered under the USA Patriot
  Act, provide criminal penalties for revealing the 
  existence of the warrant to any third party, including 
  the service provider's customers. A warrant canary may 
  be posted by the provider to inform customers of dates
  that they haven't been served a secret subpoena. If the
  canary has not been updated in the time period specified
  by the host, customers are to assume that the host has 
  been served with such a subpoena. The intention is to
  allow the provider to inform customers of the existence
  of a subpoena passively, without violating any laws.


  rsync.net Warrant Canary

  Existing and proposed laws, especially as relate
  to the US Patriot Act, etc., provide for secret 
  warrants, searches and seizures of data, such as
  library records.

  Some such laws provide for criminal penalties for
  revealing the warrant, search or seizure, disallowing
  the disclosure of events that would materially affect
  the users of a service such as rsync.net.

  rsync.net and its principals and employees will in
  fact comply with such warrants and their provisions
  for secrecy.  rsync.net will also make available, weekly,
  a "warrant canary" in the form of a cryptographically
  signed message containing the following:

  - a declaration that, up to that point, no warrants have   
    been served, nor have any searches or seizures taken

  - a cut and paste headline from a major news source,
    establishing date

  Special note should be taken if these messages ever cease
  being updated, or are removed from this page.

I found the caveat at the end of the second link interesting:

  This scheme is not infallible.  Although signing the
  declaration makes it impossible for a third party to
  produce arbitrary declarations, it does not prevent them
  from using force to coerce rsync.net to produce false
  declarations.  ...

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