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[liberationtech] Naive Question

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at
Mon Sep 9 14:09:48 PDT 2013

On 09/09/2013 03:40 PM, Case Black wrote:
> There's a more subtle variant to this idea...
> Regularly state ("put up a sign") that you HAVE in fact received an 
> NSL...with the public understanding that it must be a lie (there's no 
> law against falsely making such a claim...yet!).
> When actually served with an NSL, you would now be bound by law to 
> remove any such notification...thereby signaling the event.

Then the company served with an NSL would simply be told _not_ to
take down their current notice or they would be prosecuted.

Sure, the company could argue that this means they're being forced
to break the law, but they'd be forced to argue it in secret, against
the gov't who can convince the company it's less work trusting
their prosecutorial discretion than it would be to take it to court.

Also, we now know how easy it is for the FBI/NSA to have
a secret interpretation of the law-- they could simply communicate
that secret interpretation to the company under the NSL to reassure
them that it's not the notice that breaks the law, but rather the act
of signalling the existence of a bonafide NSL to the public.  Still, if an
entire sector of corporations start feeling the heat, they just lobby
Congress for retroactive immunity as the telecoms did after revelations
about the Bush wiretapping program.

In short I don't think there's a hack for this one, it just requires
old fashioned activism and mobilization to reveal what these
secret interpretations of the law actually are and try to work to get rid
of them.  (Well, I guess greater decentralization and privacy-overlays
are a good way to get around it but that's a long term thing AFAICT.)


> Regards,
> Case
> On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM, LISTS <lists at 
> <mailto:lists at>> wrote:
>     I wonder if there's a false analogy here. Hypothetically, the
>     librarian's sign could fall down (maybe the wind blew it over)
>     whereas a
>     notice on a site would have to be removed via coding. There would be
>     little other explanation, even in the case where one does not
>     affirmatively renew the "dead man's notice" (the countdown that
>     Doctorow
>     suggests in the article). Such an affirmative act might lead a
>     court to
>     believe that one has indeed informed the public about an NSL.
>     - Rob Gehl
>     On 09/09/2013 12:18 PM, Dan Staples wrote:
>     > Presumably, if this type of approach became widely adopted, it
>     would be
>     > a useful service for an independent group to monitor the status
>     of these
>     > notices and periodically publish a report of which companies had
>     removed
>     > their notice.
>     >
>     > On 09/09/2013 12:52 PM, Scott Arciszewski wrote:
>     >> Forgot the URL:
>     >>
>     >>
>     >>
>     >> On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM, Scott Arciszewski
>     >> <kobrasrealm at <mailto:kobrasrealm at>
>     <mailto:kobrasrealm at <mailto:kobrasrealm at>>> wrote:
>     >>
>     >>     Hello,
>     >>
>     >>     I saw this article on The Guardian[1] and it mentioned a
>     librarian
>     >>     who posted a sign that looked like this:
>     >> and would remove it if
>     >>     visited by the FBI. So a naive question comes to mind: If I
>     operated
>     >>     an internet service, and I posted a thing that says "We
>     have not
>     >>     received a request to spy on our users. Watch closely for the
>     >>     removal of this text," what legal risk would be incurred?
>     >>
>     >>     If the answer is "None" or "Very little", what's stopping
>     people
>     >>     from doing this?
>     >>
>     >>     Thanks,
>     >>     Scott
>     >>
>     >>
>     >>
>     >>
>     --
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