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Lavabit Closes Shop, Blames Government
by Karl Bode 06:06PM Thursday Aug 08 2013
Lavabit, an e-mail provider that since 2004 has offered better security than your average service (including asymmetric encryption) has closed up shop. In a message posted to the company's website, founder Ladar Levison hints at the fact that the United States government's ceaselessly expanding surveillance powers and abuse of gag orders are a primary reason why.

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Lavabit came to fame recently because it was used by Whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Levison's website message suggests that the company was hit with a national security letter (NSL) and gag order, the likes of which a Judge back in March declared to be Unconstitutional.

Levein hints that his choice was either to run a gagged, surveillance complicit and compromised e-mail platform with none of the security it professed to have, or shut down. He chose the latter:
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision.

I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
We've covered for several years the growing use (or in a significant number of proven cases, the abuse) of NSLs, which allow the government to obtain personal user records from ISPs (or banks and other companies), then invoke a gag order against the company preventing them from ever mentioning it -- all with no judicial review.

NSLs are increasingly being challenged by companies like Google and a lawsuit by the EFF on behalf of an anonymous telecom company (which I believe is either Credo Mobile or Sonic.net). Nicholas Merrill of Calyx Internet Access, who was sued by the DOJ for questioning the practice's legitimacy after he and his ISP were "gagged" by the government for years, has also been battling government use of NSLs.

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I gave her time to steal my mind away
San Jose, CA
·Pacific Bell - SBC

2 recommendations

reply to 88615298

Re: Obey the law or go out of business

said by 88615298:

People that actually believe in these conspiracy theories and chicken little scenarios must be very unhappy people always thinking the end of freedom is near.

In 1972 I was paid off by the U.S. Army in Ft. Myer, Virginia. I drove cross country to Naval Base San Diego to visit my brother, who was still in the U.S. Navy. I encountered one police officer in rural Missouri, who was concerned that I might be a deserter. I showed him my DD-214, which settled that matter. He then suggested a better place to crash for the night; where I wouldn't be disturbed, or a disturbance. And then there was the California ag inspection station, where they were just concerned with pests hitch hiking on produce. LEOs were actually polite, pleasant, and helpful back then.

I used to prowl the Marin headlands shortly after my return. I'd drive right up to the chain link fence around one of the Nike-Hercules launch sites of SF-88, and not be hassled by any M16 armed guards. Traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Denver, Colorado by air, and only had to present a boarding pass at the gate.

Now our LEAs are militarized, and view non-locals with great distrust. Police perform body cavity searches on routine traffic stops. We have warrantless wiretaps, and get stopped for no reason at all (reported by one of my sisters on a recent cross country drive). We submit to warrantless searches at airports; and soon the TSA will bring them to your local bus and train stations. The U.S. Congress periodically considers a national ID card.

The reality of travel is so different today from just forty-one years ago. We actually have slipped into a surveillance/security state mentality. It isn't my imagination; it is today's reality. If you are under thirty years old, you probably can't remember the way it was back then (well, except for minorities; they were always treated like dirt).

Today, unless you are a part of the Government Elite, you are viewed by them as a, "Threat". It isn't a "conspiracy" theory when you are seeing it as it happens.
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

Snohomish, WA

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reply to clone

Re: He can, and must speak.

said by clone:

I'll post it again, since you obviously can't read:

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..."

And one of the exemptions of that passage, that the supreme court s ruled on and affirmed repeal is the public safety and security overrides that right.
you cannot yell "fire!" in a theater, and certain gov't actions to protect the public may prevent your free speech on the specific items requested in a NSL (ie a gag order)

Teksavvy Extreme
Toronto, ON

2 recommendations

reply to FFH5

Re: Obey the law or go out of business

Traffic fatalities: 30,000+ per year
Terrorism fatalities: less than 100 per year

How would you feel about GPS and other monitoring to make sure everyone is driving safely? Why are some people willing to accept such an invasion for such a minor problem in the grand scheme of things?

Terrorism is just murder by another name, and a small percentage of murders at that. The founders of your country didn't feel that it was worth it to throw your freedom of speech and right privacy under the bus to catch a few murderers, why do you?