back to article Snowden's secure email provider Lavabit shuts down under gag order

Lavabit, the security-conscious email provider that was the preferred email service of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, has closed its doors, citing US government interference. "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 …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

    I predict a large scale exodus of companies hosting in the USA.

    The US Government have really shot themselves in the foot with this move, it's going to fuck up a whole industry.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But an industry that makes very little in the way of political donations - they need to learn from private prisons, defense and farming how to get Washington to do "the right thing"

      1. grandours
        Trollface

        "...they need to learn from private prisons, defense and farming how to get Washington to do "the right thing."

        and from Apple.

    2. Oninoshiko

      I keep hearing this, and it keeps not happening.

      Damn shame.

      1. asdf

        >I keep hearing this, and it keeps not happening.

        And how many quarterly results have been reported since the Snowden story first broken. Due to contracts and such the lead time will be significant before it happens but by the same token that means they won't be coming back any time soon either.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

      Scotland ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

        Remember when people used flee the Soviet Union and seek political asylum in the United Stated of America?

        1. henrydddd
          Pirate

          Re: It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

          I wonder if the word Snowden translates to Solzhenitsyn in Russian

      2. Thorne

        Re: It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

        "Scotland ?"

        You may take our mail servers but you'll never take our freedom...........

      3. Andy Gates
        Thumb Up

        Re: It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

        Stoneybridge!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

        Scotland? Dont think so, even though they may have fought hard against the English, unfortunately they didnt get their freedom from the Crown. Hopefully this will be rectified with the Independence referendum.

        Now if you had of said the Republic of Ireland, I would agreed more so. (Although us Irish have been known to cosy up to the American Gov so im not sure how far my argument stretches in the case of American security services invading privacy)

    4. Brian Miller

      Exit the US, and then go where? New Zealand? China? Russia?

      Seriously, the only way for something to be "bulletproof" is to be hosted in every single country that can support a data center, and then a shutdown in one country would not result as in a shutdown of the service overall. However, none of this prevents data from being read before it enters the mail servers.

      As for throwing a wrench in Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, et al, the big guys have already acceded to the NSA's demands, and they aren't moving out of the US. Ballmer threatened to move Microsoft out of the US, but that was over taxes.

      1. andro

        For cloud hosting, host your own. Then you know what it is and where. Hire some skilled staff who can keep it running and keep the data backed up offsite. If your worried about web or email use SSL on your mail server and https in your browser.

        IMHO No business should keep any private data out in the cloud. Its not a question of country.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge
          Stop

          host your own where? It wont stop them knocking on the door and grabbing your servers due too "unspecified terrorism charges"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Host your own server...

            'host your own where? It wont stop them knocking on the door and grabbing your servers due too "unspecified terrorism charges" '

            Host your server somewhere under your physical control. Then, while it won't stop them grabbing it, they can't do so - or take a copy of the data - without you knowing.

            Hosting an email server isn't rocket science, and it doesn't require massive hardware - people have just got lazy over the years and assume everything has to be in the cloud.

          2. RegW
            Trollface

            > host your own [mail server] where? It wont stop them knocking on the door and grabbing your servers due too "unspecified terrorism charges"

            Well Yemen is proving to be popular. The USA only approaches by drone, and when they do - they generally kill the neighbours' kids. So a little money into the benevolent fund that Al-Qaeda runs for the widows and orphans (in lieu of compensation or even apology from the US government) and you should be pretty safe.

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          >Implying that (Insert you warm and cuddly spy agency HERE), can't intercept your Mail before it hits the Server (where ever it may be!), and decode it. Yes even if your on a SSL connection. Which IIRC, was recently reported as not being all that secure actually...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "If your worried about web or email use SSL on your mail server and https in your browser."

          Yes, because there are no CA's based in the USA that can issue certificates used, for example, in MITM attacks on any domain if required to do so.

    5. Dave 126 Silver badge

      "In case you haven’t noticed, we are now almost as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis were."

      - Kurt Vonnegut Junior - http://inthesetimes.com/article/903/i_love_you_madame_librarian

      Remember the shameful blackening of his name Fox News indulged in after his death? We were always taught not to speak ill of the dead.

      "She was a widow, and he stripped himself naked while she went to fetch some of her husband's clothes. But before he could put them on, the police were hammering on the front door with their billy clubs. So the fugitive hid on top of a rafter. When the woman let in the police, though, his oversize testicles hung down in full view."

      Trout paused again.

      "The police asked the woman where the guy was. The woman said she didn't know what guy they were talking about," said Trout. "One of the cops saw the testicles hanging down from a rafter and asked what they were. She said they were Chinese temple bells. He believed her. He said he'd always wanted to hear Chinese temple bells. "He gave them a whack with his billy club, but there was no sound. So he hit them again, a lot harder, a whole lot harder. Do you know what the guy on the rafter shrieked?" Trout asked me. I said I didn't. "He shrieked, 'TING-A-LING, YOU SON OF A BITCH!' " - Timequake, KVJ

    6. Shannon Jacobs
      Holmes

      Freedom of speech is too expensive in today's Amerika

      Hey, if you had a battery of lawyers, maybe you could have survived.

      Privacy in America? Try to intrude on the Kolk brothers or the big dick Cheney. They can afford to break you into small shiny pieces.

      Hey, it could be worse. You could have gotten murdered by your hacked car a la Michael Hastings.

    7. This post has been deleted by its author

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      @AC

      I predict a large scale exodus of companies hosting in the USA.

      Well, that remains to be seen. Because in general it will be a lot easier for them to simply change their usage policies and be done with it.

      Sure, some will hold their ground based on their moral values, but I can't help wonder how many of the companies which claim to have "moral values" will actually live by them now that its being put to the test?

      In general it's easier said than done.

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. A Twig
        Joke

        Re: No need to predict...

        Big mountains and a pretty shit hot army help as well :)

        1. Chika
          Coat

          Re: No need to predict...

          Big mountains and a...

          Somebody has been watching the Kentucky Fried Movie, methinks!

          We are building an army of extraordinary magnitude. You have our gratitude.

          Or was it Take him to Detroit?

      2. Benjol
        Big Brother

        Re: No need to predict...

        Ha, you don't have a Credit Suisse - backed credit card then?

        I just this week received the updated T&C which pretty much say: "You give us the right to host your data anywhere, to share it with who we want, and have it processed by companies anywhere, including in countries where you don't have any of the protection provided by Swiss law."

        The problem is: do I have the time or motivation to start trawling through competitor's T&Cs to see if I'll be any better protected? Not really, especially given the "everybody else is doing it" mentality amongst these sharks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No need to predict...

          Ha, you don't have a Credit Suisse - backed credit card then?

          I just this week received the updated T&C which pretty much say: "You give us the right to host your data anywhere, to share it with who we want, and have it processed by companies anywhere, including in countries where you don't have any of the protection provided by Swiss law."

          Why don't you give the Swiss Data Protection officials a call?

          As far as I can tell, this borders on a breach of banking laws so I'm sure they will be interested to hear of this, and they can get seriously aggressive if CS is trying to pull a fast one. The guy that runs that department is a good political player so he tends to get results.

          It would be ridiculous for CS to undo all the effort that went into getting a separate card processing centre in Switzerland to protect the privacy of transactions.

          1. Mr F&*king Grumpy

            Re: No need to predict...

            never mind "borders on", it would break Swiss law, full stop. In fact it would be a criminal offence. But only in the card holder is domiciled in Switzerland and the credit card is issued in Switzerland.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Swiss banking secrecy: not so much

            The Swiss banks have caved to the U.S. because the big banks, like UBS and CS, have daughter companies (CS Boston, etc.) under U.S. jurisdiction, can be fined, have their licenses revoked, and have their managers and client handlers arrested and sent to jail.

            The banks which are not present in the U.S. can still have their arms twisted by the U.S. (or EU) threatening to cut off their access to international services of one sort or another (SWIFT, etc.).

            Even the banks which are present only in Switzerland, such as the Kantonal banks, are not immune, as they have large sums of money they need to invest somewhere, and don't want to be prevented from buying and selling U.S. securities or investing in funds which do. Also, if the U.S. authorities get the names of (not entirely innocent) Swiss bank managers or client handlers by squeezing them out of tax cheats who have been arrested in the U.S., then they can put those people's names on a (secret) list and arrest them for aiding and abetting the tax cheating, should they ever make the mistake of going on vacation via a route which takes them through a U.S. airport.

            Under those conditions, the banks are trying to protect themselves and their employees by not only complying with laws regarding money laundering (which was rather belatedly made criminal under Swiss law in response to pressure from countries mainly trying to fight the international drug trade, and only later also funding of terrorism), and getting rid of numbered bank accounts, but also by simply refusing to do business with any customers subject to U.S. tax laws, regardless of their citizenship.

            U.S. citizens living in Switzerland (or anywhere in the world) still have to file U.S. tax returns and are subject to U.S. taxes on their world-wide income, even if not a penny was earned in the U.S. Some of them are having trouble finding a place to have a bank account any more. I'm not talking about rich people here, just normal people working a 9-5 job who happen to be ex-pats.

            Swiss citizens living in Switzerland, but who earn money on investments in the U.S. are also subject to U.S. as well as Swiss taxation on the U.S. income.

            Therefore, if you open up a bank account in Switzerland now, in all likelihood you will be asked to sign a form in which you either assure the bank that you are not a U.S. citizen and also have no dealings which would create a U.S. tax liability, or else you voluntarily waive your right to privacy and explicitly permit the bank to share your information with U.S. authorities. This also applies for simply getting a safe deposit box.

            Furthermore, the mechanism by which this is being done is not that the U.S authorities send a letter requesting your details if they suspect you of tax cheating, and then some bank employee gets them from the bank's secure computer system, prints them out and mails them to the U.S. authorities. No, the U.S. demands that they have direct access to the Swiss bank's computer systems so that they can pull the data whenever they want.

            How the information on Swiss citizens, which is subject to Swiss banking secrecy laws (the few shreds that remain) is protected I have no idea. I go on the assumption that the NSA, CIA, DHS, etc. have either hacked into everything they weren't already given access to, or have sources planted in the various banks. So the only protection you really have, is that they are mainly interested in the big tax cheats and terrorists and would be unlikely to go after some average person for a trivial offense, because they'd have to explain how they got the data and reveal the extent of their penetration of the banking systems.

            There was an article in a Swiss newspaper a few days ago about the number of CHF 1,000 bills now making up 60% of the total CHF currency in circulation. By way of comparison, the EUR 500 note makes up about 30% of the total value of EUR in circulation.

            AC for the obvious reason.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Swiss banking secrecy: not so much

              "they are mainly interested in the big tax cheats "

              Don't think so. But the rest of the post is pretty spot on.

              "they'd have to explain how they got the data"

              First option: It was on a CD we bought, honest guv (or local equivalent).

              http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/germany-raids-200-suspected-tax-evaders-in-nationwide-hunt-a-894693.html (16 Apr 2013) starts

              "German tax authorities have bought a new CD containing bank account details of thousands of alleged tax evaders with accounts in Switzerland. They conducted 200 raids on Tuesday and expect to recoup more than half a billion euros in lost tax revenues.

              German tax investigators conducted 200 raids on alleged tax evaders with bank accounts in Switzerland on Tuesday, prosecutors said"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Swiss banking secrecy: not so much

                "German tax authorities have bought a new CD containing bank account details of thousands of alleged tax evaders with accounts in Switzerland. They conducted 200 raids on Tuesday and expect to recoup more than half a billion euros in lost tax revenues.

                Are those the same tax authorities for which now an arrest warrant has been issued in Switzerland? They cannot set a foot in Switzerland without being arrested. Someone in Bern seems to have at last seen sense.

      3. Ralph B

        Re: No need to predict...

        > it is forbidden for a company to send/handle Swiss customer data outside of Switzerland

        Ah, so that's why we have no access to Netflix, LOVEFiLM, et al in Switzerland, is it?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No need to predict...

        Here in Switzerland, demand for hosting services has skyrocketed as clients have been dumping US and UK-based providers, and turning to Swiss data centres that enjoy strong client data protection law.

        Marco van Beek referred to this earlier:

        "Companies that do not want to fall foul of privacy regulations have a problem: the legislative anti-terror backdoors installed post 9/11 offer authorities easy access, but provide for little transparency in how those rights are used or what happens to the data afterwards, and they exist in European law too.

        In the UK alone, fairly public events have shown that not only such legislation will be abused, even more so when those who are supposed to guard against abuse are in collusion with those who break the law."

        That was written before Snowden and Co. provided the actual evidence. It appears the author was *way* ahead of the game, so you heard it on The Register first :-).

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No need to predict...

        Migrating to Swiss providers, that's exactly what I just did, very nice and smooth and more importantly far more secure and respectful of confidentiality. Now just wait for the US / UK / EU fascists to turn their guns onto Switzerland in yet another retaliation of the most democractic country in the world.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe not exodus but.....

      I work for an American owned IT company and although I haven't seen customers asking for stuff to be moved from our US hosting, new solutions certainly aren't going there. Customers have insisted their new solutions are not in the US

      1. Andy Gates

        Re: Maybe not exodus but.....

        It's an effort to move provider - so the first impact will for sure be in a fall of new contracts.

        Moving when the contract next comes up for renewal - when the Board are asking "do we want to keep our stuff here?" - that's when the existing customers will start to go.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yet again proof that privacy is not a TECHNICAL problem

      If you don't start with the right legal framework you can throw whatever technology at the problem - you will eventually have to make a choice protecting your client of following the law. Most people I know don't go into business to become martyrs.

      This is why we develop global privacy strategies: you can actually make the law work for you if you reside in multiple jurisdictions (provided you move your HQ out of the danger zone, otherwise you're wasting your time). Technology is pretty much at the tail end of that process.

      What I find spectacularly interesting is that the knowledge required to do it right is actually not in any of the privacy accreditations. The people that come to us with IAPP credentials always need a lot of extra schooling before we can even use them as assistants. I'm not sure why that is, but the omission is interesting given that the IAPP is US based. You'd almost see a conspiracy there..

    12. HereWeGoAgain

      America is not the land of the free

      And the US Constitution is not worth a bean and never has.

      Did the US Constitution stop slavery? No.

      Did it stop mass internment in WW2? No.

      Americans who ramble on about the Constitution are living with their heads in the sand.

      Still, 10/10 for Lava for having some integrity.

      1. cortland

        Re: America is not the land of the free

        By the same performance based standard, NO systems of laws nor religions are, either, or ever have been.

      2. Marshalltown
        Pint

        Re: America is not the land of the free

        The US constitution, or more the Bill of Rights, is about all the country has going for it. What's not worth a bean is the average citizen of the US, who couldn't care less about their constitutional rights until they accidentally find them selves interred in Gitmo by mistake, or gagged by some one who sued because of hurt feelings over some non-pc utterance. The "Constitution" is "the law" in the sense that Kipling wrote of in MacDonough's Song. Read it, understand it. I've spoken with Vietnamese immigrants who had a better grasp of the constitution than most high school graduates and more than half the lawyers you'll meet.

    13. Ramazan
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: ironic that this happens in the land of the free

      So if someone smuggles anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons into the USA, are you willing to overthrow your government?

      Just contemplate how different is this from Syria,.. numerically maybe?

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I predict a large scale exodus of companies hosting in the USA."

      Where would they go and not have to meet some form of governmental mandated monitoring *AND* have the Internet backbone?

      Unless companies are going to start setting up on offshore data center rigs and have fiber run to the US and other countries, there is nowhere to go.

    15. Scorchio!!

      "It's ironic that this happens in the land of the free.

      I predict a large scale exodus of companies hosting in the USA.

      The US Government have really shot themselves in the foot with this move, it's going to fuck up a whole industry."

      Not at all. Why rely on a provider to do your encryption for you? How utterly naive. Never heard of PGP?

      "To the best of publicly available information, there is no known method which will allow a person or group to break PGP encryption by cryptographic or computational means. Indeed, in 1996, cryptographer Bruce Schneier characterized an early version as being "the closest you're likely to get to military-grade encryption."" [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy ]

      As to your prediction, pshaw.

  2. Nate Amsden

    nowhere to run

    Sad to see but where else is there to go? I mean most(all? I can't think of any major ones off the top of my head that don't, and really minor ones are often subject to the pressure of the majors) countries have evil in them like this. Fortunately Snowden has shown a bright light on the internals of what we have here. I had suspected such stuff was going on for years but I still felt sad when the fears were confirmed.

    (sigh)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: nowhere to run

      Try Fantasy Land.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: nowhere to run

      If you wait until October you'll have an answer. A proper, no BS, no activist, simply professional service. It's already live for testing. However, you must realise that such a service will certainly not be for free.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: nowhere to run @AC

        Talk is easy - where's your evidence?

      2. Scorchio!!
        FAIL

        Re: nowhere to run

        "If you wait until October you'll have an answer. A proper, no BS, no activist, simply professional service. It's already live for testing. However, you must realise that such a service will certainly not be for free."

        Oh FGS use PGP. Last time I looked it was even possible to invoke it using Outhouse Express.

        Sheesh.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm actually surprised they didn't do this earlier, this is common place. Apparently he put up a good fight, and his comments alone say enough. Unfortunately, all governments are seemingly inline with these type of gag orders.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      I don't think any critical thinking person can believe that the US is a democracy anymore.

      Now, the million dollar question - how to explain to the sheep that their shepherd is actually the wolf ?

      1. james 68

        "I don't think any critical thinking person can believe that the US is a democracy anymore."

        it never was - it was/is a constitutional republic, the greatest smokescreen in history was the governments achievement of having its people believe it was a democracy

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Kinda hard to do when you give the little piggies something to help fatten them up like osamba care.

        and totally ignore a third of the working Government. But, at least you can't blame the killing of poor "brown" Peoples on purely "white" people anymore. 'cause Osamba love Drones as much as anyone!

        1. 2FishInATank
          FAIL

          "Osamba"

          That makes you look as pathetic as the people who use M$ or Micro$oft at every opportunity.

          1. croc
            Devil

            RE: "Osamba"

            Yeah... I quit that '$' shit 'cause I can't find a lower case $ sign...

          2. h3

            "Osamba" makes him look much worse than that. Not childish just the type of American who I would not care at all if was killed by terrorists.

          3. Scorchio!!
            Thumb Up

            " "Osamba"

            That makes you look as pathetic as the people who use M$ or Micro$oft at every opportunity."

            I agree unreservedly. When Obama was elected I told an American friend in email 'congratulations, but be prepared to find that, a human, he has feet of clay'. If he weren't human then he'd be inhumane with very little difficulty at all.

      3. Cyne

        Oh, I thought it was an anarcho-syndicalist commune where everyone takes it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.

  4. erikj

    ECC Patents

    Maybe another reason, besides the obvious and abject dysfunction, Congress won't ban software patents? Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is very much patent encumbered by, um, the NSA.

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Facepalm

      Re: ECC Patents

      Why does this keep popping up?

      Quick check on Wikipedia, then follow the links for further research on the actual patent situation around ECC. In short, it's pretty much specific implementations that are held by former Certicom (now RSA) that are patented.

      The NSA itself is a licensee nowadays.

      Problem is more that *ignorance* about the patent situation is holding ECC back.

    2. Irony Deficient

      Re: ECC Patents

      erikj, ECC patents in the US are very much licensed by the NSA — the patents themselves are mostly owned by Research In Motion.

      1. erikj

        Re: ECC Patents

        I did a little (better) looking around, and I see your point. I thought the SECG patent policy made the situation seemed pretty knotted up. But that's an effort to create standards, which has it's own IP headaches. Wikipedia made it seem like people were waiting for patents to expire to avoid having to weed through them. Sorry for adding any confusion and thanks for clarifying.

        1. Alien8n
          Alien

          Re: ECC Patents

          Sensible and reasoned debate on El Reg?

          *checks date*

          Nope, not April...

          :)

  5. Noodle

    Way to go US Govt

    "I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

    When US companies start advising against doing business with US companies, you know things are going very wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Way to go US Govt

      When US companies start advising against doing business with US companies, you know things have gone very wrong.

      Fixed, unfortunately I can't advise our Cousins about how to fix their government, for I am (according to their President, Congressmen, Senators, intelligence and law enforcement agencies) one of several billion potential terrorists, and so is everyone I know, and everyone I have ever known (probably including all those who are already dead, I suspect the satellite intelligence arm of the NSA are already examining images of graveyards daily, just incase they rise up from their graves, and attempt to overthrow American 'freedoms').

  6. Katz

    Aaand we keep sinking further. Right to privacy, free speech, effective appeals.

    If anybody dare look down on China and Russia with this BS holier than thou 'land of the free' again, I'll just scream.

    I'm still trying to see what news I missed about crimes being committed against the American people, when did all this happen? Only crimes I see are from the government and their spying agencies.

    But still, so long as there's something decent to watch on TV, who cares eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      something decent to watch on TV

      Is there ? something decent to watch on Merkin TV ?

      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
        Pint

        Re: something decent to watch on TV

        Well, as long as are all suggestions of nipples are blurred and all potential swearwords are beeped out, there's certainly nothing indecent....

      2. Tachikoma
        Happy

        Re: something decent to watch on TV

        Is there ? something decent to watch on Merkin TV ?

        Breaking Bad starts this weekend, but I think that's about it until Game of Thrones returns next year.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Crimes against the American?

    I would have thought he revealed the actions of the security services in their crimes against the American people ..

  8. tkioz

    Brace man, and I applaud him.

    But wouldn't his comments be taken as breeching the gag order? I'm sure the Gestapo FBI is already on it's way to have a chat.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      >But wouldn't his comments be taken as breeching the gag order? I'm sure the Gestapo FBI is already on it's way to have a chat.

      tkioz's comment above pre-dates mine above by more than an hour. (his strike-through formatting doesn't survive copy-paste)

      >"In case you haven’t noticed, we are now almost as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis were."

      - Kurt Vonnegut Junior - http://inthesetimes.com/article/903/i_love_you_madame_librarian

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court"

    Well, the servers were in the US and were used by an American citizen. Where does the foreign portion come into play?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When said guy gave "secrets" to "foreign enemies" endangering lives.

      Or

      When said guy exposed the scale (often suspected) of quasilegal monitoring of the whole world via respected media outlets endangering political careers.

      There's lots of talk about Cloud services but don't forget they're spying on everything that goes through their pipes, and so is everybody else, and in order not to spy on their own citizens they have everyone else do it for them. I suspect almost every Western Democracy is in on the act.

      However one does have to become a bit suspicious as to how American corporations keep out maneuvering their global competitors...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What secrets? The governemnt is trying to discredit the information that Snowden has "leaked". If they are trying to say it is not true, then he endangered no lives at all. They can't have it both ways. If anything, Whistleblower laws would come into play.

        You also are forgetting another issue. If the government did get their hands on him, they would need to prosecute him. Since he has the right to face his accuser, whatever the government claims, they have to prove. Which means his attorney would need to have access to the material. While the government could appoint an attorney for Snowden, he could also use his own. The best bet, find an attorney the government would not want to turn information over too. So, since the prosecution is required to turn evidence over, they wouldn't want too. In the end, the government would either confirm or deny that the information was accurate. His attorney would also request a jury trial. So now you have Snowden, his attorney, the judge and jurors all knowing the truth of the government program. There could even be backup jurors and thus even more people having access to the information. Then there would be appeals and even more jurors, judges, etc. that would have knowledge. Not a very winning combination for the government. The trial alone could also start the constitutional rights lawsuits.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          That's why we now have secret courts, secret prisons, extra-ordinary rendition and if all that fails - just legal political assassination.

        2. Evan Essence

          The best bet, find an attorney the government would not want to turn information over to

          Glenn Greenwald?

  10. 0_Flybert_0
    Mushroom

    don't get it ..

    if you are merely providing secure hosting and other legal software .. the server or VPS for 2 IP addresses for 2 nameserver domains and set up domains (which the account holder owns) and a mail server for people ..

    how are you not protected under the various Safe Harbor provisions ? .. for crimes committed using email or a website when you providing the hardware and network management .. don't even have access to the root username or password ?

    a VPS with 2 unique IP addys and root access for unlimited domains is cheap .. now if i set up an email account on my own web server .. have my own name servers and mail server .. who exactly can request me .. as the host .. to turn over my email ?!? .. isn't there a self incrimination issue there ?

    and they WOULD be stupid enough to contact me first .. as the host .. for email@fuckoffnsa.com .. for example .. at which point if i gave a shit about what's in my emails generated or received through fuckoffnsa.com .. they would no longer exist .. and fuckoffnsa.com would blink off the web for a few minutes .. wiped from the server .. reloaded with some relevant content with the sole .. legally required abuse@fuckoffnsa.com contact email

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: don't get it ..

      Patriot Act.

      1. JCitizen Bronze badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: don't get it ..

        Patriot Act - talk about an oxymoron, or should I say a moronic oxy? That defiles everything a true freedom loving patriot would fight for. Maybe its time we quit fighting for our country, since it has turned into a scaredy cat den of suppression.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: don't get it ..

      I expect something along the line of...

      You will give us full access to all of your email servers.

      - We can't. We built it so we can't if we want to.

      You will build a back door into your systems.

      - No we can't we will shut-down first.

      Too bad there are not more that don't roll over.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Safe Harbor isn't

      How anyone in their right mind could trust a program that entirely relies on self certification of organisations that have everything to gain from being a tad casual with the rules is beyond me, especially after FISA, the USA PATRIOT Act and other fun ways to legalise government data theft.

      In short, Safe Harbor isn't.

      IMHO, it hasn't been safe from day 1 - it was nothing more than a marketing exercise.

  11. L05ER

    huh...

    won't continue committing crimes against "the american people"

    but he'll sure as hell make comments that could hurt the american IT industry. it's a justified comment, but still capable of doing more harm than simply continuing business.

    1. Bakunin
      Angel

      Re: huh...

      I think quietly rolling over and letting the Stasi win *yet again* does far more damage.

      I applaud his stance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: huh...

      but he'll sure as hell make comments that could hurt the american IT industry. it's a justified comment, but still capable of doing more harm than simply continuing business.

      Sorry to break it to you, but it's not him and the other Americans with consciences which are hurting American businesses... you should try looking at your government.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Possibility...

    This of course is all speculation.. but my suspicion is:

    The ECC was successful. There is not some backdoor, bug, or hole in the system that is permitting access to private E-Mail.

    Some agency "requested" him to place a tap in place between the outside world and the E-Mail system. So, he then had a choice to either do this or shut down his services. I would have done exactly what he did -- although, given the unconstitutionality of these laws in general, I'd be very tempted to also ignore the illegal gag order.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Possibility...

      ''given the unconstitutionality of these laws in general, I'd be very tempted to also ignore the illegal gag order''

      Illegal or not - they will do you over.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You made your choice, now suck it!!

    YOU WANT MONEY?!?!? Losers!! I wouldn't give you a penny. Close up shop and decide on a conviction. Don't make a choice and want the rest of us to bail you out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: You made your choice, now suck it!!

      P.S. ..... Never heard of you before today. 10 years, ya didn't really make a name for yourself, 'eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You made your choice, now suck it!!

        awood4929, what happened...what I miss...WTF is going on?

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon
        FAIL

        @awood4929

        hmm, 10 posts since your account inception in March - including this little gem about China hacking US company networks..

        "?Then why are they in my network?

        If they do not need our secrets, then why are they in my network?

        It is easy enough to kick their a$$es out, if only my "superiors" had the ball$.......but they don't. They just accept it as a fact of life. ......and the red carpet."

        Ironic, don't you think?

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. dssf

    Pre-emptive Denial of Receipt of Gag Order

    Apparently, Levinson an plenty of people in his line of work who are known entities did not on their sites and in their correspondence/letterhead post "X number of of days and as yet not served a gag order/silencing letter; not yet supboenaed to submit information on a client..."

    If they posted these regularly, then the next thing to display would be "any cessation of these daily tickers means you should be suspicious of us and burn your connections to, with, or through us for your own peace of mind..."

    I've been saying that off and on, and I think I even put such language in an articles of incorporation for one business plan I filed, even though normally such matter is not submitted with an Articles of Incorporation submission. But, a coffee shop could be an unwitting participant in compromising its clients from WITHIN the demarc when the governments could and SHOULD do their dirty shit on their own instead of forcing proprietors to be their unnecessary conduit or else be burned out of an income stream. Way to go, uncle sam. Compromise the integrity of people whose business models are theoretially legal, as-yet/to-date not illegal, and depend on trust through-and-through.

    I'm not in that line of work, and do not want to be, but, so far, I've never been issued any investigatory letters nor any gag orders. I've done nothing nor engaged in any knowing or intentional contact with anyone who would cause me to be dragged into any such investigation. Since I value my freedom, I avoid risky or dodgy people. OTOH, any vicious enough operatives could just concoct situations to "burn" or punish those who dare say what I just wrote. Could I be such a target? Who knows?

    1. Alien8n
      Alien

      Re: Pre-emptive Denial of Receipt of Gag Order

      "I've never been issued any investigatory letters"

      Pretty sure the point has been the fact that our govts have simply bypassed issuing any of these under the grounds of "but it's the War on Terror, that means it's all legal since we passed that law that bypassed all your privacy"

  16. David Kelly 2

    Termination of Operations?

    How does termination of operation of his business in any way terminate his obligations under the court order he was served?

    1. Martijn Otto

      Re: Termination of Operations?

      His service was secure. Stored email was encrypted in a way that without the password it was not readable. He could not just give them the information. They asked him to build in a tap, to monitor somebody. He then shut down business before that could happen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Termination of Operations?

      "How does termination of operation of his business in any way terminate his obligations under the court order he was served?"

      Fair question.

      In most cases, when an incorporated business (limited company, etc) doesn't want to deal with its obligations and isn't fussed about its continued existence, the business can cease trading, wind itself up, and that is the end of the obligations.

      The people that ran the business aren't the business itself. If the business ran up debts that it couldn't pay, it's not the directors that have to suffer, it's the people who were owed something.

      Will it be different in this case, if the mail service(s) choose to close the business?

      If so, why? If not, why not?

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Termination of Operations?

      How does termination of operation of his business in any way terminate his obligations under the court order he was served?

      It doesn't, it just renders it moot when the order applies to something he is not doing.

      He continues to be obliged to hand over every email passing through his business if that is what the order demands, but if there are no emails passing through his business, or the business no longer exists, there is nothing to hand over.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    You can go to www.lavabit.com....

    And use the link at the bottom of their homepage to donate to their legal defense fund. I already did.

    1. Mr C

      Re: You can go to www.lavabit.com....

      ^.^ this

      you got my vote +1

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can go to www.lavabit.com....

      He should have chosen a non-US company to collect donations. I'm worried that Paypal freezes his account, yet collect all the incoming donations in the interim. If he sets up any donation option outside of the US, I will chip in.

      On that note, is there a Swiss alternative to PayPal?

  18. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

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  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    When there is nowhere to run.

    Stand your ground and fight.

    Sun Tzu

    1. Miek
      Linux

      Re: When there is nowhere to run.

      You will probably find that the ground you stand on is not in fact yours at all.

  20. Another Anonymous Dutch Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ awood4929 - Actually lavabit was pretty well know by those who would use such services. Paris obviously because shes actually smarter then you.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "well-know"

      I thought that the expression "to be well-known" was actually quite well-known.

      However as with so many things it now appears that there are more idiots doing it wrong than people who actually use their brain.

      Unfortunately the woefully misled will argue fanatically, frothing-mouthed and spittle-flinging that their way is correct. When they are asked to reveal reasoning or evidence that might support their hypotheses, the only thing they are able to offer is "because once I thought I heard some other moron saying it this way".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The power of TV

    Comparing the people of North Korea and those of the USA you would naturally assume that the Norks were all brainwashed. It now seems that the Norks just live in fear and it's the Yanks that are brainwashed.

    After watching years of TV shows in which the brave American army come to the rescue they all believed it.

    Now, as Ladar Levinson has just found out, it is the turn of the American people to live in fear.

    This is going to end badly because by reading this you are no longer a Patriot but an enemy of the State.

    I expect that another 9/11 type event will happen on American soil so that any remaining opposition will be quashed forever. Remember that the FBI were told that guys were taking flight simulator lessons but ignored it. Ask yourself why?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: The power of TV

      "I expect that another 9/11 type event will happen on American soil so that any remaining opposition will be quashed forever."

      The major highly-publicised panic about a non-event in Yemen is all part of this. The drip-drip-drip of doom-laden news is going to increase, and people like Snowden and Levinson are going to be made out to be enemies of "the people"*, as is anyone supporting them.

      * without ever actually defining who "the people" actually are, of course.

  22. OvAl

    Misread by the media

    <quote> ...to become complicit in crimes against the American people ..</quote>

    I get the feeling he means something different here that what it at first appears. I looks to me, taking in account the measure and tone of his other statements, they he's pointing this particular statement at the unconstitutional actions of the estabilishment, not Snowden.

    Could be wrong, could be right. Eitherway, all media outlets I've looked at regarding this news have quoted this without further context, seeming assuming he's talking about the man, not the Man.

    1. Schultz Silver badge

      Re: Misread by the media

      I thought it was quite obvious that he was talking about The Man, but I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Or of plausible deniability :).

  23. Crisp
    Go

    Ladar Levinson has made a courageous choice here.

    I applaud his bravery.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    irony

    anyone else spot the GCHQ recruitment ad to the side of this article?

  26. Tony Paulazzo

    “it is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.' 'A melancholy conclusion,' said K. 'It turns lying into a universal principle.”

    ― Franz Kafka, The Trial

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no host

    I think the UK has pretty strict laws on encryption; upon suspicion of certain crimes

    anyone must reveal their password to the police of face fines/jail.

    We have implemented ghostphrase for sensitive stuff, was tedious at first

    but got used to it. No hosts, no master keys, all user based.

    1. Alien8n
      Alien

      Re: no host

      But how can you spy on someone without them knowing you're spying if you have to ask for the password?

      The point here was Lavabit it would seem were told to build in a backdoor that would allow the NSA full access. We'll never know if this was the actual demand made but it seems most likely given what we currently know.

  28. Colin Millar
    Black Helicopters

    In the land of the free

    Why would anyone bother running a business there - you have these guys coming round shaking you down and blackmailing you in some protection racket.

    And then when you have paid the Feds the Mafia turn up for their bit.

  29. Frederick Karno

    The USA government is looking pathetic over these issues, when you by pass societies laws and constitution,you are undermining your very own ability to Govern.

    The truth no matter how unpalatable will always be the winner.The more this continues the more business's will avoid the USA altogether , the same will happen in the UK, hopefully people will sit up and take notice and remove the Governments who decide they are going to remove Laws that are there for a very good reason.

    1. Chika
      Big Brother

      The only problem is that successive governments in the UK of whatever political stripe have pretty much tried to do the same thing. They want complete control of the Internet and, as they gradually wise up, the restrictions they apply get more draconian. Vote for whoever you want, it will make no difference.

      The real reason is that the underlying layer to that which we call government doesn't change as the government itself does, and the bad advice from such as these and the corporate lackeys that they listen to is what makes it so bad. The only advantage at present is that the corporates don't command as much of the control of the UK structure that they do in the US where the financial basis of the country is pretty much in the hands of a tiny fraction of the population. That, however, is changing.

      The unfortunate thing about this is that it will get far worse first before it gets better, and until the respective governments grow some spine and stand up to these shadow puppeteers, getting better isn't an option.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheers NSA

    NSA probably demanded a backdoor be inserted. Can't break a proper implementation of public/private key encryption? Just order the the provider to include a keylogger trojan with their software, or include a flaw the NSA can exploit, or demand they change it to an improper implementation...

  31. NoneSuch

    Ummmm, wait a tic.

    Snowden needs a job.

    Lavabit needs a new home.

    Lavabit Russia would solve two issues almost instantly.

    All I ask is I get the first account that is set up for the idea. :)

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Ummmm, wait a tic.

      Once upon a time I would avoid a .ru domain like malware ridden plague.

      Nope, still wouldn't go there.

  32. EJ

    Options

    Time to move the operation to Venezuela or Ecuador. I hear they might have a soft spot for this sort of dilemma.

  33. Roger Mew

    Hi, now if you want to send emails that cannot be read, then do attachments. For example let all your recipients know the file type is wrong, and that the last letter is always added.

    So for example bombfileinstructions.txt becomes bombfilea.trt.

    Basically this is very difficult to read. in fact if one actually puts bomb as the file type and puts the type in the file type then it just cannot be decrypted easily. If we all did that then the various bodies would be spending all their time wasting time.

    Now also use a vpn and hey presto loads of fun

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Roger Mew:

      For example let all your recipients know the file type is wrong, and that the last letter is always added.

      That might have worked 10 years ago but nowadays the extension is not all that important, most programs will look at the file header to establish the file type. If you want an easy obstruction then zip up your file then edit the first 4 bytes from 50.4B.03.04 to something else (perhaps 42.4D.36.06 and rename to BMP), to read the file just correct the first 4 bytes, rename and unzip.

      Security by obscurity is never a good idea, if nothing else it can engender unjustified confidence and this scheme is about as secure as a bank vault made of chocolate but it is very time-consuming to solve which could mess up our pals in the counter-intelligence community.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all good

    It's foolish to support Snowden who is a traitor and who will be proseuted for same. It's nice to see another scumbag ISP bite the dust.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all good

      I was going to post that "It must be bad if this forum pretty much agrees on a subject.", but I think I'll wait a bit longer.

    2. DJO Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It's all good

      No the traitors are the scumbags who have trampled over the constitution with warrantless surveillance of American citizens who are meant to be innocent until proven otherwise.

  35. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Vive la Revolution

    See title.. that's my thought.. it's time to dust off the Declaration of Independence, embrace it and the Constitution and.... hmmm... gotta' go.. someone's kicking in the front and back doors.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative providers ?

    Found this one..

    https://www.neomailbox.net/features/offshore-servers

    Does anyone else have any alternative solutions worth looking at?

  37. rcorrect
    Pint

    Ladar Levinson

    Cheers!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dead hand of the framers is indeed dead

    "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," Levinson wrote. "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."

    And there you have the value of having a written constitution.

  39. Roger Mew

    I thought you may be interested in what Shirley Williams, then Labour MP for Slough said about CB, then illegal.

    We are not and cannot have people communicating freely with each other without control.

    The people then said get stuffed Williams, we ARE having CB, and lo and behold, the people got CB.

    On a stupid frequency, using poorly designed sets from the east that were way overpriced.

    So the state lost out, twice, but the whole of Europe also caught a cold through her stupidity.

    The same will happen over the internet, and corrupted data will be passed from person to person and group to group. Just look at paedophiles, now do the UK state think that they have stopped it, possibly, have they, yes but only if they have started mining for oil on Pluto!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shirley Williams? CB? CBE?

      Reference welcome, though she always was and still is a slightly odd character, even more so than the rest of the Gang of Four.

      Bilderberg attendee in recent years too. Like the CEO of Palantir. I'd never heard of him/them (unlike most of the well known members of the Great and the Good on the attendee list) so when I saw Palantir on the list I looked them up. You could too, except that kind of theory is only for nutjobs isn't it.

      Anyway, hasn't PMR443 (?) available for £20 a walkietalkie handset somewhat taken the place of CB, for short range stuff anyway? Anybody repurposed any cheap PMR kit for packet radio for encrypted mesh networking? Any sense in the suggestion (bearing in mind that the endpoint security of a Windows box is still poor, as always)?

    2. Scorchio!!

      "I thought you may be interested in what Shirley Williams, then Labour MP for Slough said about CB, then illegal.

      We are not and cannot have people communicating freely with each other without control."

      The very woman who outlawed the building of new grammar schools. Thus it is with socialism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[Shirley Williams] outlawed the building of new grammar schools. Thus it is with socialism."

        I don't remember that particular job although I do remember her fellow Gang of Four member Roy Jenkins (the famous four who left the Labour party because it was too left wing???) suggesting that all the fee-paying schools should be closed down.

        Anyway a moment's analysis of Shirley Williams career (founder member of Gang of Four included) will show she was never a socialist by any non-US definition of the term.

  40. Miek
    Black Helicopters

    "Under current US law, requests for information by US intelligence agencies often carry a gag order that forbids the party receiving the request from disclosing what information was requested, or even that a request was made at all." -- Just let them know that whatever requests they post to you will be immediately posted onto the internet. Get your asylum requests in early.

  41. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Three cheers for Ladar Levinson

    Maybe if there were more like him - and those folks were the ones running the place instead of the current paranoid schizophrenics - we could treat the USA as adults.

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