What was the Role of the Yellow Canary on the ‘Official’ Ethereum Website?


The unique yellow canary at the footer of the Ethereum.org website is gone. Although many visitors overlooked it, the avian emblem served an important purpose for the website. The reason behind its disappearance is the recent overhaul conducted on Ethereum.org. The site now has a minimalist design with fewer graphics.

The role of the warrant canary on the Ethereum website was to warn the site’s users if the Foundation is served with secret subpoenas. Such subpoenas compel testimony or the submission of evidence in court. Also, organizations risk criminal lawsuits if they disclose the secret subpoenas.

Organizations usually avoid the implications of revealing secret subpoenas by alerting users when they haven’t been served with a subpoena. This means that the Ethereum.org website risked the privacy of its users’ information by warning them if a subpoena was served.

When a mouse pointer hovered over the yellow canary, it displayed a message explaining its function. In the text, the Ethereum Foundation stated that it had never encountered an agency that required it to hide information from its users. This is the reason why they were ready to inform their users of any inquiry by government agencies that aren't concerned with regular business.

The recent removal of the yellow canary has ignited speculation that the Foundation was served with a warrant, and were using the website upgrade as a means to make the change discrete. Alex van de Sande, a developer responsible for the yellow canary, believes that the removal was unintentional.

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