The big picture

Tinfoil is very public by default. Anyone can see your posts, so we encourage you to be careful about what you post. We care about privacy here, and will not collect any information we don't need to operate Tinfoil. We can't protect your data in case of (the remote possibility of) law enforcement requests, or if someone else wants to collect public-facing posts. Assume total openness when using the forum.

What information do we collect?

We collect whatever is necessary to operate Tinfoil on using Discourse, which we host on DigitalOcean. You're giving us some information when you register on the site, and when you participate in the forum by reading, writing, and evaluating the stuff shared here.

When you register, you provide a name (it can be a pseudonym or screen name) and an e-mail address. You can also visit the site without registering. Your e-mail address will be verified by an email containing a unique link. If that link is visited, we know that you have the e-mail address. So there's that.

When registered and posting, our Discourse server records the IP address that the post originated from.

That's about it.

What do we use your information for?

We care about privacy and security here. We don't use your data, except as necessary to operate Tinfoil. Note that administrators can see your email and IP address in the administrative panel. We're not going to use it, but please know that it's visible to us.

We make occasional backups of the forum, in case it goes down, or if we want to recover it at a different location. We store backups on a zero knowledge cloud service.

What data protections does Tinfoil provide?

We encrypt your data in transit with HTTPS, and we encrypt your data on the server with default security measures provided by DigitalOcean and Discourse. Note that DigitalOcean can decrypt data hosted on their servers.

The email provider (Mailgun) can have access to the automated emails sent by Discourse, as well as email log data - something they talk about in their privacy policy. Mailgun uses SSL / TLS, but it's also possible your email service provider doesn't play nice with our email service provider, thus failing to encrypt connections between the two. The same is true for any email provider.

What is our data retention policy?

We'll try to minimize retention of all IP address information.
* We'll hold onto server logs including IP addresses for no more than 90 days.
* We'll hold onto IP addresses associated with registered users and their posts no more than 5 years. This is a lot longer, because it's pretty much tied to your persistent username. (This is also part of Discourse's legalese.)

Note that our host, DigitalOcean, does not seem to have a clear data retention policy. It is unclear how long they retain data, even if we delete it.

Do we use cookies?

tl;dr: Yep, though we don't use any third party cookies.

Longer version: Yep. Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider puts on your computer's through your browser. These cookies let the site recognize your browser and, if you have an account, recognize the account.

Even though third-party services and analytics would help optimize the forum, we're basically not going to use them because we don't want to put unnecessary cookies on your computer. We don't want to collect information about you, unless it's absolutely necessary to operate Tinfoil.

Do we disclose any information to outside parties?

tl;dr: nope, unless we have to.

Longer version: We will not voluntarily to send your data anywhere. This doesn't stop three-letter agencies from gathering it - we can't really stop that from happening. We may be required to disclose data if we get some sort of law enforcement request. Likewise, there's nothing to stop anyone from scraping the public-facing part of the site. Be smart, and only post stuff you're okay with having public.

Warrant Canary
Legal requests related to national security typically take the form of National Security Letters from the FBI, or classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders. As of the date of publication, we have never received a National Security Letter, FISA order, or other classified request for user information. If, for some reason in the future we are not able to disclose any information we will continue to be as transparent as legally possible.

Third party links

If we link to another website, those sites may have their own independent privacy policies. We don't take responsibility for the content on any of those sites, or how they use your data.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act compliance

tl;dr If you aren't 13 years or older, please don't use Tinfoil.


By using our site, you agree to the site's privacy policy.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page.

This privacy policy is loosely adapted from the policy used by Discourse. This document is CC-BY-SA.