Proxy.sh a VPN provider that sprung onto the public VPN scene in 2013 has potentially received a security service gagging order on one of their French servers.
On June 2nd the Seychelles based VPN service whose staff names are cloaked in secrecy such as Mr. Paul and Dr. Lou mysteriously posted a very simple service status update entitled “France 8 removed from warrant canary until further notice” which within contained the following message
We would like to inform our users that we do not wish any longer to mention France 8 (188.8.131.52) in our warrant canary until further notice.
Proxy.sh is one of few VPN services who issue a regularly updated warrant canary.
The idea behind the warrant canary is should a law enforcement agency require Proxy.sh to log or tamper with one of their servers and restrict them from informing users then they can simply stop publishing their warrant canary which states that they have not received any such requirements.
In essence they can be legally bound to not inform users of this fact but the idea behind a warrant canary is they can not be legally forced to continue publishing an untruth or a lie stating the servers have not been tampered with.
Checking the warrant canary itself clearly shows that their France 8 server has indeed been removed and the fact Proxy.sh have not elaborated why plus this being the first such occasion this has happened is a clear red flag.
What this means for users
Should Proxy.sh have received some form of gagging order by a government agency it wouldn't be a requirement for them to publish this fact in their news area which makes it clear they have gone above and beyond by publicising this fact.
This alone should lead users to suspect that they have indeed been required to tamper with their France 8 server and are doing everything in their power to warn users without falling foul of whatever restrictions they have been put under.
Most worryingly it would appear that the clear announcement coupled with the removal of the France 8 server from the warrant canary has fallen on deaf ears. The France 8 server coupled with their French servers in general continue to be some of the most utilised of their network.
We contacted Proxy.sh over 41 hours ago to enquire why this server has been removed from their warrant canary and although we received an initial customer service response stating that the request would be forwarded to their “Senior Network Engineering Department” as of publication we are yet to receive a response, should that change we will update this article. [See Update…]
While it is not certain that Proxy.sh have received a gagging order the suspicion greatly points in that direction and at least for the time being it would be wise for Proxy.sh users to avoid using their France 8 server.
If indeed Proxy.sh have received a gagging order related to that specific server it is unlikely we will ever know the full details behind the situation.
Update 16th June : A representative for Proxy.sh responded to our request for information with the following:
Unfortunately, we are unable to talk about France 8. All we can state is that it is no longer part of our warrant canary, so we recommend not connecting to it. We will do our best to bring back France 8 into our warrant canary ASAP.