Last fall, we wrote about how Apple has placed a warrant canary in its first ever Transparency Report, noting:
“Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”
In case you haven’t been keeping track, the Section 215 orders are so called “business records” requests. It’s the basis for the orders to Verizon demanding metadata on all calls. It’s not the whole PRISM program, which details more specific requests for content and metadata. A “warrant canary” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Since these requests come with gag orders, you can get out in front of them by saying ahead of time that you haven’t received one. Then, if it disappears, people have reason to believe that you did get such a request and just can’t talk about it anymore.