Ledger CEO: Private Keys Could Be Shared with Governments if Subpoenaed

• Ledger CEO, Paul Gauthier, has confirmed that the private seed phrases of users who opt into Ledger’s new Recover upgrade could be handed over to governments if they were to be subpoenaed.
• The firmware update allows users to back up their seed phrases with third-party entities with the aim of helping a user recover their seed phrase should they lose it.
• According to Gauthier, this would only be reserved for “serious acts” such as crimes involving drugs and terrorism.

Ledger CEO Confirms ‚Sharded‘ Wallet Keys Could Be Shared If Subpoenaed

Ledger CEO Paul Gauthier has confirmed that the private seed phrases of users who opt into its new Recover upgrade could be shared with governments if their custodians were ordered to do so. The optional firmware update is designed to help users recover their seed phrase in case they lose it, by breaking it into three encrypted fragments called “shards” which are then stored with three separate parties—Coincover, Ledger and an independent backup service provider.

Subpoenas Reserved For „Serious Acts“

Gauthier clarified that while the seed phrases could technically be handed over if subpoenaed by government entities, it would only be used in cases involving “serious acts” such as crimes relating to drugs or terrorism. He also disputed the 2018 example provided by Peter McCormack on his What Bitcoin Did podcast regarding Coinbase being forced to hand over 13,000 user’s personal information under IRS subpoena as an inaccurate comparison due to Ledger not being a banking institution and therefore not subject to the same legal constraints as crypto exchanges.

Overblown Privacy Concerns

Ledger representatives have maintained that concerns surrounding privacy are largely overblown, emphasizing that customers can choose whether or not they opt into Recover and how much information they provide when signing up for the service. They further clarified that customer data is collected on a need-to-know basis and kept secure at all times through strong encryption protocols.

New Recover Upgrade Benefits

The new Recover upgrade offers several benefits for customers including a smoother recovery process in case of lost keys or passwords; increased security through multi-signature authentication; backing up your funds across multiple wallets; being able to recover funds without needing physical access; and creating more secure backups than before thanks to distributed storage technology.


In conclusion, while there may be some privacy concerns associated with Ledger’s new Recover upgrade, these appear largely overblown given the range of security measures implemented by the company along with customers having control over how much data they provide when opting into the service. Furthermore, Gauthier has made clear that any subpoena requests would only occur in extreme circumstances involving serious criminal activity.