U.S. forces encrypted email server to shut down – gags owner

August 8, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

George Orwell must truly be tired of spinning in his grave by now.

From Raw Story, the U.S. government has apparently forced the man running a secure email server to shut down. It is thought that this server, Lavabit, was the service Edward Snowden was using will holed up in the Moscow airport. This story also reports that the owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, has been barred, apparently by the U.S. from discussing this coercive action by the U.S.:

An encrypted email service believed to have been used by US leaker Edward Snowden shut down on Thursday apparently as a result of pressure from US authorities. Lavabit owner Ladar Levison posted a message at the website telling users that the he was pulling the plug on the secure email service launched in Texas nearly a decade ago. “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,” Levison said.

Addendum August 9, 2013:

How can this be happening, that in our beloved United States of America, “our” government can try to force a company to trample on treasured constitutional rights in a secret appeals court proceeding? This is pure insanity. Here’s where we’re headed: None of us will be allowed to communicate in any way with each other unless our BIG Nanny government is able to monitor the conversation. That’s what they are after, and they are going to get it, because most of us rely on the government’s war-cheering stenographer journalists for most of their information. Thus, organized resistance will be virtually impossible, even if 90% of the people favor massive change. This rampant spying has already killed off investigative journalism aimed at government corruption and abuses (who’s willing to call or email a reporter any more?). The situation has already become stunningly Orwellian. Along with the thorough corruption of our government with money, this government spying is turning the U.S. into a Third World fascist state, and I don’t use that term loosely. Jimmy Carter has it right: ‘America no longer has a functioning democracy.”

Here’s the latest disturbing news, from Glenn Greenwald:

What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

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.

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Category: Orwellian, Secrecy, Spying, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    “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.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/08/snowdens-e-mail-provider-is-closing-cannot-legally-say-why/

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