A Canary in the Data Mine: NSA Takes Another Bite Out of Apple

If the canary hasn’t died, it has definitely been winged.

Apple, Inc. has changed its privacy policy (you know, those things that almost no one reads) and according to gigaom.com it has removed what is known as a “warrant canary.” A warrant canary is a statement within a company’s privacy policy that indicates it hasn’t received certain communications from, oh, lets say the NSA. When removed, it indicates the company has been served a secret subpoena by an intelligence service (NSA, FBI) regarding information it is holding on behalf of some customers, but are gagged from telling its customers about it.

Although ACLU’s Christopher Soghoian tweeted that within the same privacy policy Apple claims that it has it has not received any bulk orders, that doesn’t mean they haven’t received a request of some other nature. The removal of the warrant canary indicates something has happened yet they are obligated under 50 USC sec.1861, also known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act (remember that Bush legislation that was approved by a Congress who, for the most part, didn’t read it) to keep their mouths shut about it. But that’s the beauty of the warrant canary, silence is worth a thousand words. The now missing warrant canary is pictured below

Apple warrant canary
This now missing warrant canary implies that Apple has sometime within the last 6 months received a secret subpoena.

What does it mean?

Well, it means there is a fire, but all we can do is smell the smoke. What we do know, thanks to Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald, is the NSA is responsible for creating a slide deck which depicts Steve Jobs as “Big Brother” and iPhone users as “paying customer zombies.” So we know where their heads are at and what they think of you, dear Apple customer.

This slide is from the NSA. I wonder if the people depicted in those actual photos have any idea they’re famous in spy circles.

The truth is we can’t know exactly what it means because our country and government is paranoid beyond belief, but we can always expect the worst with out of control intelligence agencies. Paranoia on this scale can certainly make you act a little crazy.

Should I ditch my Apple products?

One thing you can do is put the kool-aid down and stop buying Apple products. But not because of the death of this canary. I don’t believe we should be compelled by fear of surveillance to not buy a product, we should be compelled by fear of surveillance to create legislation that directs that surveillance in a fashion that actually agrees with the Fourth Amendment and wipes these secret gag orders from existence.

No, you should stop buying Apple products because of the way they suck in other regards as a company.

For instance, the way they manipulate you through the media via leaks and lies.

Or the way they were found guilty of price fixing ebooks.

Or their extremely low scores in ranking ethical tech companies

Don’t get excited because they scored an 8. It’s an 8 out of 20.

Or the substandard working practices. (well that was a nice euphemism by me) Let’s instead say…

…the suicides

Stop me any time. I’m sure there’s an app for that.


-Tooze James


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