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Signal Provides Only Two Timestamps as Response to Grand Jury Subpoena

Signal says it can provide only a couple of timestamps in response to a grand jury subpoena for user data that it recently received from the District Court for the Central District of California.

Signal says it can provide only a couple of timestamps in response to a grand jury subpoena for user data that it recently received from the District Court for the Central District of California.

The official document requests a large amount of user information from the end-to-end encrypted, privacy-focused communication service, including a target’s username, name, date of birth, photos, address, email address, financial information, job-related information, activity logs, online behavior information, records of correspondence, and more.

Furthermore, Signal is asked to refrain from informing the respective user of the subpoena.

“Signal still knows nothing about you, but inexplicably the government continues to ask,” the communication platform notes in a blog post.

Furthermore, the company explains that the only pieces of information it can provide as response to the subpoena include the Unix timestamps “for when each account was created and the date that each account last connected to the Signal service.”

Basically Signal doesn’t have access to a user’s messages, name, address, photos, calls, or other data associated with the account, except for the aforementioned timestamps.

The response to the subpoena, in which the American Civil Liberties Union represents Signal, explains that the communication service was designed in such a manner that prevents it from tapping into users’ information or correspondence and that messages and calls are always encrypted and out of reach of third-parties.

“Users’ calls and messages are always encrypted, so they can never be shared or viewed by anyone except a user and their intended recipients. Likewise, Signal does not have access to its users’ profiles, group membership or group data, contacts, social graphs, searches, or the like,” the response reads.

Thus, as response to the subpoena, Signal provided only the information it could deliver, namely the aforementioned timestamps.

Related: Signal Adds Face Blurring Tool to Protect User Privacy

Related: Encrypted Messaging App Signal Hit by Brief Outage

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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