Silent Circle, the company best known for the secure Blackphone smartphone series, just removed its warrant canary — but the company says it was a business decision, and not because it has been served with a national security letter or warrant.
Most national security letters or surveillance warrants issued by the federal government come with a gag order that says the recipient cannot disclose the contents of the letter or its existence.
A warrant canary is a popular method of getting around that: A company posts a message alerting its users that it has not received any warrants from the government — but if the message is removed or has not been updated, that means user data has been compromised and the company has a gag order placed on it.
Warrant canaries have been a popular tool used by many companies ever since the National Security Agency leaks by Edward Snowden in 2013.
So naturally, when someone tipped off TechCrunch that Silent Circle quietly removed its warrant canary, it could be assumed that the company had received a national security letter or a warrant requesting user data from the government.
Nope, the company says it is a business decision.