Here we are in the second half of 2021, Signal still knows nothing about you, but the government keeps asking.
Because everything in Signal is end-to-end encrypted by default, the broad set of personal information that is typically easy to retrieve in other apps simply doesn’t exist on Signal’s servers. Once again, this request sought a wide variety of information we don’t have, including the user’s name, address, correspondence, contacts, groups, call records.
As usual, we couldn’t provide any of that. It’s impossible to turn over data that we never had access to in the first place. Signal doesn’t have access to your messages; your chat list; your groups; your contacts; your stickers; your profile name or avatar; or even the GIFs you search for. As a result, our response to the subpoena will look familiar. It’s the same set of “Account and Subscriber Information” that we can provide: Unix timestamps for when each account was created and the date that each account last connected to the Signal service.
Even though we had nothing material to provide, this request also came with an order for non-disclosure, which was extended four times. Though the judge approved four consecutive non-disclosure orders, the court never acknowledged receipt of our motion to partially unseal, nor scheduled a hearing, and would not return counsel’s phone calls seeking to schedule a hearing.
We’d like to thank the ACLU for their assistance – particularly our counsel for this response, Brett Max Kaufman and Jennifer Granick.
We’d also like to thank everyone who uses Signal. Our commitment to you remains unchanged. We’ll keep working with effective and talented organizations like the ACLU to respond to future government requests, and we’ll keep publishing our responses here.
The transcript for this request can be found below.