Silent Circle: We haven't been served a single demand for data

Despite reports to the contrary, Silent Circle's general counsel said the company has not received a single government demand "of any type" for user or business data.

Silent Circle's apps help power the long-awaited, privacy-centric Blackphone (Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Secure app maker Silent Circle has denied ever being served a secret demand for user data, amid concerns over the weekend suggesting the contrary.

How tech companies use warrant canaries to secretly communicate with you

Tech companies aren't allowed to tell you when the government wants your data. Enter the warrant canary.

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In an email, general counsel Matt Neiderman confirmed the company has not received a warrant "of any type" to date.

The maker of encrypted phone and messaging products was caught in a mini-storm Saturday when reports suggested its warrant canary, a tool designed to alert the receipt of a warrant that comes with a gag order, was missing an explicit declaration that it had not been compromised by a government data demand.

Although Neiderman said the warrant canary is "working properly," he added that the company "just missed adding the statement with the update [Friday]."

"We will be updating it to include the statement shortly," he confirmed.

As of Monday, the warrant canary was updated with the declaration.

In a tweet, Khalil Sehnaoui (aka "pilgrim") warned that either someone at the company had "been served legal process, or someone messed up updating their Canary page."

A separate Hacker News thread warned as early as December that the warrant canary was missing the declaration. Users on a new thread on Saturday criticized the lack of certain phrases on Silent Circle's warrant canary. One user said it should be "more explicit," stating that it has not received any legal process or demand from any level of government.

Although there's no law in effect to prevent warrant canaries from being used, Twitter is currently fighting the US government in the courts to have them protected under the First Amendment right to free speech.

Though they have been in use for more than a decade since the introduction of gag-provisions in the Patriot Act, signed into law in 2001, they have been increasing in popularity in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation developed its own warrant canary watching website earlier this year for companies with one in place.

Morgan Marquis-Boire, a security researcher and director of security at First Look Media, the media branch of The Intercept, continues to work on an automated process for giving "signed warrant canaries to the masses."

Updated on March 9: the warrant canary has been updated.

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