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back to article Snowden's email provider may face court rap after closing service

The owner of an encrypted email service used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden could be facing contempt of court charges after refusing to hand over his users' information to spooks, according to a recent report. Ladar Levison dramatically shut down his email firm, Lavabit, after being whacked with a secret federal court order. …

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How's that 'not strong-arming' going, Obama?

You lying piece of shit.

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Megaphone

Re: How's that 'not strong-arming' going, Obama?

In fairness to Obama, and I by no means defend him - the situation in America (and probably the UK) is that the security agencies have become so unwieldy and self propelling organs of self interest that I doubt he has much clue about what they do.

This is brutally evident in the expose on the NSA.

When a country thinks it needs a secret court, secret sealed subpoenas etc then it clearly needs to sit up and re-evaluate what the hell it is actually doing.

1984? We are already WAY beyond that.

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Big Brother

Re: How's that 'not strong-arming' going, Obama?

I think Bill Hicks said it best when discussing Politicians and their pre-election promises:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MRykTpw1RQ

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Secret justice

Is not justice at all. A system where people can be coerced into giving information, then be silenced about even giving the data to the authorities should not be allowed. Its dangerous and completely counter to the entire point of justice.

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Big Brother

Re: Secret justice

I refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Chamber

Originally set-up to ensure " the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts would never convict them of their crimes."

But inevitably, it became a symbol for misuses of power "Over time it evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts."

Does this sound familiar?

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Re: Secret justice

He wasn't even being coerced into giving information.

He was being coerced into re-writing his service to store the email un-encrypted or grab the encryption details of all his customers - that goes a long way beyond cooperating with the court

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Anonymous Coward

The only reason for the gag order

Is to stop the regular court system from finding this grossly unconstitutional.

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Anonymous Coward

Fight on Mr. Levinson

I've contributed to your fight via Paypal. Use that money to expose this gross injustice by power mad liars. Oops, sorry I mean governments.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fight on Mr. Levinson

I've contributed to your fight via Paypal.

OK, upvote for humour value. Hahahaha.

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Anonymous Coward

The truly amazing thing is that American politicians can't see just how 'totalitarian' their country is behaving?

Seriously, if China was behaving as the American system is, they would all be pointing it out and shouting about human rights abuses...

Where are the American people? I thought the entire point of the constitution was to hold the American Government accountable to the people? Why are Americans not filling the streets protesting?

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Unhappy

Because they have been hoodwinked by the government. The US government is not the only one that is hoodwinking its people, and it getting very scary as we are not far away from the western governments turning into totalitarian states, and the general population is not aware.

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Unhappy

Where are the American people?

We're watching Dancing with the Stars and Breaking Bad ... most Americans couldn't give a damn about Snowden because he's not on Reality TV or a Game Show.

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"Why are Americans not filling the streets protesting?"

And be branded unpatriotic at best, terrorist at worst, prior to being invited to stay at sunny Guantanemo Bay?

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Black Helicopters

Or just getting locked up or shot

under the more conventional auspices of US policing.

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It is a threat

@obnoxiousGit

"Where are the American people? I thought the entire point of the constitution was to hold the American Government accountable to the people? Why are Americans not filling the streets protesting?"

The idea that the gov is accountable to the people is like the nuclear deterrent in the UK. If we are destroyed maybe the instruction is to fire or maybe its not. If it is known by the attacker that they wouldnt be destroyed then there is no threat. The US is in the same situation that the UK is in. They are as unwilling to do anything as we are. We want our creature comforts and give away our freedom for the pleasure.

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Black Helicopters

Many of us are blissfully ignorant of the danger the actions of our government pose to the rights we take for granted. Unless it causes their Interwebs and FaceSpaces to not let them play their little Flash based games and share too much personal information most Americans are incapable of caring. We have become indolent and ignorant. Those of us that are capable of seeing and understanding the risks are labeled as paranoid or nut-jobs.

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USA is now the new Soviet Union

Gross violations of the constitution and acts of overt oppression of the people are taking place. The US Congress are now acting enemies of the people of the united states for voting to allow this and doing nothing to stop it.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the point of it all

Snowden legacy is clearly going to outlast him and will be that of some sort of American folk hero. The current course of action is only laying the foundations for this. Perhaps, ultimately, that is the intention.

But in a decades' time, who will remember anything Obama has done?

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Re: What's the point of it all

Unfortunately, a lot of us will remember Obama in a few decades. Just not in a positive way.

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Re: What's the point of it all

I expect he will be remembered in place of bush. For all the harm bush became infamous for obama reaches further. It looks almost like he is trying to compete

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but what about those who donated?

Surely that list can now be subpeona-ed to find people who support this 'rebellious activity'?

Is the online donation service US-based? That would be quite ironic...

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Black Helicopters

Re: but what about those who donated?

Undoubtedly they already have that information. I'd be surprised if all contributors weren't considered "persons of interest" already.

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Big Brother

Re: but what about those who donated?

I would be astounded if the security services didn't hoover up semi-public data about who is interested in what, politically.

Those No. 10 petitions ? The ones where you need to provide your UK address & email ?

Any Justgiving campaign.

Letters pages and public fora ?

eBay activity.

Amazon reviews ....

The spooks knew about big data years ago.

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Re: but what about those who donated?

will the fund be subpeona-ed to release details of those who contribute. Will another fund have to be started to protect them... the lawyers will be rubbing their hands and stoking the fires

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The true hero

The whistleblowers Manning and Snowden put themselves in morally ambiguous position. Though of course that still puts them in good company: for example, Mandela.

With Levison there's no ambiguity: he's doing absolutely the right thing at considerable personal sacrifice. Nor did he seek publicity for himself. Even if he avoids trouble with the courts, he's abandoned the work of years in his service. This is a true hero.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The true hero

Disagree that what Manning/Snowden (or indeed Assange) have done is MORALLY ambiguous. Not at all. Morally excellent, proper, conscientious etc.

Legally their position is more difficult (a la Mandela), but that's because the laws are bad.

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The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

It deems people 'enemies'.

It murders 'suspects'.

Hitler was voted into power. 'Democracy' is not an obstacle to this people.

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Bronze badge

Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

It is a constitutional republic not a democracy anyway.

(That ignores the constitution at every opportunity).

Look at how it actually works with the electoral college and all that stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

If memory serves, he was voted into power with a decent majority, fixed their national economy, ended a lot of starvation, properly organised their national data AND that of invaded nations, and generally didn't do too bad a job from the point of view of the average German. And even on the mass-murdering side, he- and the other higher-ups in the Nazi party- had the decency to come out and say exactly who they didn't like and why (their reasons don't matter so much in this case as there being publicised, consistent reasons that they actually went to the trouble of pretending were true/blowing out of all proportion).

The current crop of politicians have done almost the exact opposite. They've wrecked economies, plunged many into starvation, screwed up/given away our data, screwed up invaded countries and pissed off a lot of the populace. And then they don't even have the decency to declare who or what they're fighting or why- 12 years bombing the shit out of a couple of foreign countries and generally subjugating their native populaces and they haven't even declared it as an official war yet.

Whoever's in charge these days couldn't hold a candle to Hitler. They're more evil, more incompetent and thanks to the mass-media are more dangerous than he ever was.

If I've made a mistake/omission in this post, please tell me so the next one is correct.

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Gold badge

Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

Your omission is that the reason Germany was economically ruined was the completely nuts "reparations" they were forced to pay for their actions in WWI. Germany started it all with WWI and WWII happened because the allies got greedy.

Hitler may have been the most notable - and ultimately most hated - player, however, he was far from the only one. There's also a lot to suggest that while he was indeed a monster, he was not remotely the most monstrous of those who held power alongside him.

Germany's shame is the same as that of the Americans of the day and those of today: apathy. America of the day gave no fucks about what was happening to others based on human rights abuses. They are today no different. The only difference is that the first bricks in the road to having true monsters in power are being laid in America now.

Obama isn't Hitler, nor was Bush. (Though we could have an argument about Cheney.) The real monster will come in the not too distant future; a decade from now, two at the most. After all these rights have been curtailed within their nation and seem "normal" to the next generation. After 30 years of "foreigners aren't people" has been ingrained and embedded within the populace.

Then will the real horror start. Then you'll get a Bachman or a Palin or a pastor from Westboro Baptist Church with nuclear weapons.

I weep for the future.

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FAIL

Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

Several mistakes here, Hitler's best election result was in March 1933 with 44% of the vote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Party#Federal_election_results

The German economy had been on the road to disaster for several years, this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Mason#The_.22Flight_into_war.22_theory

may or may not be true, but it's more compelling then Hitler's reason's for war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casus_belli#World_War_II

Not sure what you mean by "their national data". Pretty sure Hitler didn't invent the internet. It was Al Gore as any fule no.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

Thanks for that, I like to know when I'm wrong. Makes me less wrong next time :)

Isn't 44% still better than the current UK or US governments? Any idea what the turn-out was like for that vote?

Yes, the German economy was rocky, but as someone said above that was mainly due to the 'victorious' side in WW1 claiming enormous reparations payments from them. It lead to phenomenal inflation, with people being paid twice daily to cope and a loaf of bread being a billion marks. This lead to a lot of resentment so he was able to scapegoat and work his way into power. He, more or less, saved Germany and set the stage for a very strong economy.

By 'their national data' I mean, predominantly, their census data. And some of their tax data. And other such stuff- they recognised the importance of all this data and hired in IBM to sort it out for them. Given some more time they'd have been 'digital by default'. And they were bloody good at it, too- unlike our current shower. It was all punchcards etc, though, so their packet-switching would have involved motorcycle couriers exchanging parcels.

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Re: The USA is the Nazi Germany of our era

Just by the way, I have a 100,000,000 Mark note from December 1920. An old German bloke lived next door to my Grandma, and when he died, she cleaned out his house, as he had no family. She gave it to me, and no its still pretty much worthless.

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a house of cards

Anonymous Coward of 21:48 GMT, have you considered the use of a search engine to discover facts and figures? (For example, the turnout of that election was 71.6%.) You can certainly answer your own question regarding how the 43.9% NSDAP popular share of that vote compares to the most recent Conservative share in the UK and the most recent Democratic share in the US.

Regarding the German economy during the Nazi years, look closely into Hjalmar Schacht’s Mefo bills; they were used to finance massive public works projects (e.g. the Autobahn system), which in combination with wage and price controls kept government-approved people from starving. Note that the timing of the invasion of Poland could well have been related to staving off the collapse of the Mefo bill system.

As far as Hitler “more or less, saving Germany” — no. Hitler’s policy choices made war inevitable, and if you think that photographs of Berlin, Dresden, and Dachau in the summer of 1945 demonstrate Germany having been saved, then you should consult a dictionary at your earliest convenience.

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Anonymous Coward

How to do secure email

(bearing in mind the trade off for security, is convenience)

1) Start with a huge one time pad.

2) Sent to email recipient securely (only safe way is face to face)

3) Encrypt email

4) Post ciphertext to a binary newsgroup

5) recipient is watching for it, and downloads and decrypts it

6) for a reply, (1) above needs to be reversed.

Assuming you trust the integrity of the initial OTP, you can forward details of the next OTP in the first message. Ideally may it something random, like the 247th paragraph of the 19th bestselling book on the Sunday Times Bestsellers list 3 months prior to the origin of the message.

Of course, if this is what the bad guys are *already* doing, then we're shafted. Although from what I recall, some bad guys are in chokey because rather than trust infidel encryption .... hang on, I've had a brainflash...

Is it possible all this PRISM/NSA news is designed to make people abandon encryption as not worth it anyway ?

A(?)C, obviously.

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His mistake was in being too honest. What should have happened was a series of unfortunate accidents that managed to destroy all of their data storage, after which they found out their backup system wasn't actually being used for the last two years, so all the requested data is simply gone.

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That's a good way to get charged with obstruction of justice

If they can tie the unfortunate accidents to a a given person....

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Re: That's a good way to get charged with obstruction of justice

Well I read that the original system was designed to make it hard to do what they wanted. So, they do a manual modification of the database code and all of a sudden, it's all gone.

Hey, if banks can do it, and cloud providers can do it, then surely a small outfit stands no chance at all.

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Childcatcher

Re: That's a good way to get charged with obstruction of justice

Hey, if banks can do it, and cloud providers can do it, then surely a small outfit stands no chance at all.

"No chance at all" as in "We don't care what happened, you screwed up and have no friends in high places to get you out of this." I think the course that has been taken walks as close to that legal line as possible and still can be argued not to have stepped over. The argument might not succeed, but it seems to be strong from my armchair.

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Welcome [back] to...

...the Star Chamber.

As noted by others: secret justice is no justice at all.

Or, to put it with a little more class and depth, courtesy of CS Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Welcome [back] to...

"class" is a imanginary social construct with no basis in reality.

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Re: Welcome [back] to...

I trust that as a scholar in medieval literature and literature critic CS Lewis may be able to express himself with more 'class' and acuity than I, and many others, are able to. ;-)

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Re: Welcome [back] to...

""class" is a imaginary social construct with no basis in reality"

Funny, this is so right and so wrong, at the same time.

Class seems to be like a soul - immaterial, aetherical, imaginary, unreachable, immeasurable, unreal, etc, etc. It cannot be defined properly, its existence cannot be proven, efforts to find it are rather futile.

And yet, when we conclude it does not exist, something just doesn't feel right about it, something is terribly amiss. Reality is not so real anymore.

Those little mysteries of life.

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Re: Welcome [back] to...

"class" is a imanginary social construct with no basis in reality

Oh, goody. Today's sophomorism will be naive anti-essentialism.

While I believe1 anti-essentialism is a more productive intellectual stance than various essentialisms,2 rejecting social categories as "imanginary" [sic] is either redundant (if by "imaginary" one means "arising from mental activity") or incorrect (if it means "having no consequences in the real world"). It should be patently obvious to anyone capable of observation and critical reflection that social constructs have effects, regardless of whether they are natural or artificial.

"With no basis in reality" is an even feebler claim, since society clearly is part of reality - unless you're a solipsist, and in that case why are you arguing with yourself?

Honestly, what do they teach kids in school these days?

1"Believe" used here in the weak sense, that is "operate under the conscious assumption of this axiom as appearing from available evidence to be more probable and/or productive, until evidence or reason suggests otherwise".

2Under the aegis of a logical epistemology it cannot be said that essentialism or anti-essentialism is "correct". That's a metaphysical proposition, hence untestable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Welcome [back] to...

> unless you're a solipsist, and in that case why are you arguing with yourself?

He's not. He's arguing with an imaginary know-it-all.

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Thumb Down

We'll see if the Feds can actually make this stick

Amazingly enough, the Feds have been known to attempt coercion through all kinds of threats about how they are going to send you up for this or that, and then they wimp out when they actually have to put those allegations in front of a judge and jury....

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Paris Hilton

Why is it that the good guys are looking like all along bad guys and the bad guys are looking like misunderstood good guys?

Or is it just me?

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Anonymous Coward

Couldn't agree more

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

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So, which border is closer, Canada or Mexico? And which do you think would be the best place to run to?

Mexico is conveniently close to South American countries that don't have extradition treaties with the USA, whereas Canada is only a short plane ride away from Russia and has better skiing.

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Anonymous Coward

on the other hand, as we know from The West Wing, there's already a DOD contingency plan for invading Canada - and if you add South Park, a theme song for it ....

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