On August 30, the FBI executed a search warrant on the home of an Arkansas man, Nathan Hughes. Hughes was being investigated (and has since been charged) in connection with the federal government’s wide-ranging prosecutions of those involved with the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
When the FBI found that Hughes has a Liberty Safe in his home, they contacted the company. Liberty, which maintains backdoor codes for their safes with electronic keypads, gave the FBI the access code after verifying that the FBI had a warrant to search the home. The warrant, however, did not specifically name Liberty or compel the company to comply.
Liberty posted the following statement on X explaining their protocol in those situations . . .
— Liberty Safe (@libertysafeinc) September 6, 2023
The company has since come under withering criticism for turning the code over to the FBI without being specifically named in the search warrant.
You guys are about to become really familiar with Bud Light pic.twitter.com/jCayJuk32t
— Chaya Raichik (@ChayaRaichik10) September 6, 2023
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) September 7, 2023
What are your thoughts on the Liberty Safe fiasco? I have older Liberty Safes but I wont buy any of their new products going forward. I think they’ve lost sight of the community they sell their wares to and our position on government incursion into our lives. pic.twitter.com/zrty06nGmi
— Military Arms (@MAC_Arms) September 6, 2023
Many were also surprised to learn that the nation’s biggest maker of gun safes maintains backdoor codes to their residential security containers with electronic keypads. That, however, is the practice of many safe manufacturers and is done as a backup for customers who forget their codes. Liberty says that happens thousands of times a year. That, of course, does not apply to safes with mechanical combination locks.
Other companies are distancing themselves from the practice and want their customers to know they don’t maintain access codes for their products.
We firmly believe in our customers’ right and freedom to control their personal property. pic.twitter.com/3UfdsvPTxN
— SecureIt Gun Storage (@SecureItStorage) September 6, 2023
Last night, Liberty issued the following statement notifying owners of safes with electronic keypads that they will be able to elect to have the backdoor codes purged from the company’s records . . .
— Liberty Safe (@libertysafeinc) September 7, 2023
Going forward, Liberty will also now require law enforcement agencies to provide a subpoena specifically requiring the company to provide the access code for a customer’s safe, if they have one on file.
As the company states . . .
Our mission is to protect what matters most to our customers, whether that be valuables or privacy. It is our pledge to continue to make excellent products that serve gun owners everywhere.
There’s no question that the company’s reputation has taken a big hit as a result of the publicity over the incident. Changing their policies regarding code retention and law enforcement compliance is a step in the right direction, but it’s difficult to believe that Liberty’s business won’t be significantly affected by the controversy.