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Subpoenas and Gag Orders Show Government Overreach, Tech Companies Argue

Moxie Marlinspike, founder of Open Whisper Systems, a maker of the encryption app Signal.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been six months since the Justice Department backed off on demands that Apple help the F.B.I. break the security of a locked iPhone.

But the government has not given up the fight with the tech industry. Open Whisper Systems, a maker of a widely used encryption app called Signal, received a subpoena in the first half of the year for subscriber information and other details associated with two phone numbers that came up in a federal grand jury investigation in Virginia.

The subpoena arrived with a court order that said Open Whisper Systems was not allowed to tell anyone about the information request for one year.

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