On September 2nd, we changed our procedures to narrow the circumstances in which law enforcement can request your data from us without a warrant. In addition, we now inform law enforcement that we will disclose requests for our customer data unless a specific statute requires us to keep the request secret.
ServInt is committed to supporting the Fourth Amendment. We believe that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to have a warrant to access your content. We will not disclose your content unless we receive a warrant, or there is a law creating an exception to the warrant requirement. We do not believe that there should be exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, and we are committed to persuading Congress to change those laws that do. That may not sound like a big deal — but in our industry, it is.
Our new policy also requires us to inform our customers of data requests whenever the law allows us to. There are rare circumstances under which this is not possible, for which we would require specific statutes to be cited, but such circumstances are exceedingly uncommon.
We believe that law enforcement agents have an important role to play online. There are bad things that happen on the Internet and enforcers of the law need to be able to work with responsive, responsible providers. But they need to do it the right way: they need to convince a judge that there’s sufficient evidence to issue a warrant.
This isn’t easy. We’ve been yelled at by officers who have told us that we were aiding and abetting crimes in progress by asking them to go for a warrant. We had one agent spend four hours trying to convince us he couldn’t afford the time it took to get a warrant, and that it could mean somebody’s death. He told us the blood would be on our hands if that happened. But we couldn’t and wouldn’t relent. 45 minutes later, he re-appeared with a warrant, and the case proceeded as it should have from the beginning.
Since our founding, we’ve promised, whenever possible, to place your interests first when it comes to sharing data with law enforcement. In a way, not much has changed. Now, however, we make that promise on paper. And that’s the way it ought to be.
Photo by Mike Renlund