Posted on Friday, August 9, 2013, in E_, L_, N_, S_ and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. More reasonable speculations re the Lavabit shutdown by readers of the above-linked Guardian article:

    –EnglishMike 8 Aug 2013:
    Call it what you like, but it’s not civil disobedience. By shutting down the service, he’s back in full compliance with the law. Fighting to get the court order rescinded, through the courts, is a legal battle, not civil disobedience. Keeping the service open in the face of the order would have been.

    –Pyrrho San Pellegrino 8 Aug 2013:
    Shutting down the service is a cleverer; it draws attention to tyranny; and is thereby a form of protest. But keeping the site up would only attract more heavy-weight pressure, draining his financial resources, time and energy. Now he’s free to fund-raise at his own leisure, form a case, and take a stand.

    –TGondii 9 Aug 2013:
    The truth is likely somewhere between these two comments on this story on the Slashdot article about this:

    This, I think, leads us to an hypothesis about what happened. Let’s say he got a secret FISA order for a customer’s (guess who) email. He replies and says sorry I cannot decrypt this without the passphrase. So the spooks say, “install a logger on your service for the next time he logs in, and that’s an order.” The nasty bit about FISA orders is you can’t talk about them. He can’t refuse the order, but they can’t stop him from terminating the service, and thereby making the order moot. A beautiful gesture.

    And then this from dgatwood:
    The second method of attack would involve forcing him to turn over his SSL keys, which would have exactly the same effect, but more broadly (because everybody’s passwords would get caught up in the honeypot). Either way, it’s probably safe to say that in one way or another, the order demanded access to the password stream on the way in.

    That said, it’s also possible that they demanded metadata logs of sent and received messages (from, to, sending hostname and IP, etc.) going forward, which would also be something that could be made moot by shutting the service down.

    –EnglishMike 9 Aug 2013:
    Essentially he had three choices. Comply, defy, or shutdown. Defying would have been a form of civil disobedience, but since it likely would have left him open to charges that could deprive him of his freedom for years, I don’t blame him for not taking that route.

    Shutting down was the only route open to him that allows him to put some serious weight behind his protest (and it’s worked).


  2. Good article at Forbes re the Lavabit shut-down:

    8/9/13:  Lavabit’s Ladar Levison: ‘If You Knew What I Know About Email, You Might Not Use It’:



    8/9/13:  E-mail’s Big Privacy Problem: Q&A With Silent Circle Co-Founder Phil Zimmermann – Forbes;

    He says their texting app is/was safer than email & explains the techie reasons why.

    He says his PGP service does not work good on Macs these days because Symantic has not kept up with it.

    In legal matters, he says at least Canada has a Privacy Commission whereas the USA does not.

    He says the EU is worse than the USA due to the EU’s RETENTION LAWS, which the USA does not yet have but is probably moving in that direction.

    He says they are working to set up servers in Switzerland, about the only safe place, legal-wise/privacy-wise, as China & Russia are not good options.


  4. When Zimmermann/Silent Circle, above, mentioned Switzerland, I thought, “The whole techno world will now be running to Switzerland for safe data storage & the Swiss will hit the jackpot because of it!”

    Well, it seems they already have:

    7/4/13:  Gov Spying Boosts Swiss Data Center Revenues – Forbes:
    Companies concerned about keeping their data safe from prying governments are turning to Swiss data centers that have the security of national laws which protect information from the other countries’ spy agencies.
    Mateo Meier, director at Artmotion, Switzerland’s biggest offshore hosting company, said revenues grew 45 to 50 percent last year as companies from industries as varied as oil and gas to technology to finance look for a place to store confidential data.

    Switzerland is outside of the EU conglomerate & its laws, & is big on privacy.  Good for them!



    8/13/13:  “EXCLUSIVE: Owner of Snowden’s Email Service on Why He Closed Lavabit Rather Than Comply With Gov’t”:

    “And we can’t even talk about what the legal requirements are that make it so he has to watch his words.”
    –Ladar Levison’s Attorney


    Pretty creepy these “mysterious laws” that are preventing Levison from telling all.  What to make of it? 



    8/13-15/13:  “ owner: ‘I could be arrested’ for resisting surveillance order” – NBC News Investigations:


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