Ledger CEO: Government subpoena to access user funds is the 'only concern'

Quick Take

  • Ledger’s new Recover service has been hit by a widespread backlash.
  • Some users are concerned that their funds could potentially be subpoenaed by a government if they use the service.

Three days ago, Ledger shareholder and former CEO Éric Larchevêque acknowledged that governments could subpoena access to user funds held on a Ledger device that has subscribed to its new Recover service.

The comments sparked consternation among Ledger users, but Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier has now shrugged off concerns, arguing that such a scenario is unlikely to happen.

"The only concern really is if we get subpoenaed by a government to say now this user specifically, we would like you to retrieve the three shards etc.," he said, speaking on the What Bitcoin Did podcast.

He added that this isn't a concern because governments only issue subpoenas like this in the case of a serious act like terrorism or one involving drugs. "It's not true that the average person gets subpoenaed every day."

A controversial service


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The Ledger Recovery service is an opt-in service that lets users elect to have their seed phrase encrypted and split into three shards. These shards are then stored with three third-party companies. The seed phrase can only be restored if the three shards are combined on a Ledger device — and for the user to do so, they need to pass an identity verification test. The service costs $9.99 a month and if a user stops paying, they won't be able to access the backup after a certain point.

The optional service has proven controversial, with many Ledger owners skeptical about the service and worried that it was a feature they weren't aware the device was capable of performing. Larchevêque noted that he had even seen users posting pictures of their Ledger devices being burned in protest of the new feature.

Nicolas Bacca, co-founder and VP of Innovation Lab at Ledger, claimed that the new service "doesn't change the security assumptions compared to a firmware update." In an emailed response to The Block, Ledger reiterated that its an optional service — "so if you're a Ledger user who wants to use your Ledger as you always have, you can still do that without concern. Nothing changes for you."

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Tim is the Editor-In-Chief of The Block. Prior to joining The Block, Tim was a news editor at Decrypt. He has earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of York and studied news journalism at Press Association Training. Follow him on X @Timccopeland.


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