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[liberationtech] National Security Letters (NSLs) - in case you missed this

Griffin Boyce griffinboyce at
Fri Mar 22 11:13:26 PDT 2013

On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM, Andy Isaacson <adi at> wrote:

> The so-called "ToS tell" is obviously not a reliable indicator of NSL
> activity, and most of his evidence is similarly questionable.

  I'm not sure there's any reliable way to determine whether an account is
under NSL or other gagged search request.  But the idea that your account
is (or might be) surveilled is certainly something that can weigh on one's

  Classic example: my twitter account's direct messages suddenly started
having the wrong timestamp on them last May, and the timing seemed suspect
for reasons I won't bore the list with.  This only appeared on DMs from
specific people with specific political ties.  The thought crossed my mind
that it was under an NSL -- and seemed especially likely given that there
are seemingly so many out there.  After talking to a good friend with some
insight, the chance that it was the case was put somewhere between Possible
and Likely.  Nowhere near guaranteed, but also not a paranoid fever dream

  The bug cleared up after almost a year, but only after submitting an
information request to Twitter about it. Their response was that they would
tell me if my account data had been requested. Unless they were gagged.

  Was my account under NSL? It's not something easily determined, but more
likely it was simply a pervasive twitter bug. As for the political angle,
the majority of my followers are interested in that specific political
topic, and coincidence is not unlikely.  But it just goes to show you that
these situations tend to be very tenuous and have a lot of curious emotions
attached to them.

  It might seem flippant to say, but I honestly wouldn't worry too much
about whether an account has been targeted.  I prefer to focus on overall
security.  While metadata *is* data itself, using encryption in email and
chat, and opting for services which may be less-easily targeted is better
than sitting around worrying about it.

  Just my $0.02.

Griffin Boyce
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