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back to article Snowden's email provider gave crypto keys to FBI – on paper printouts

The former operator of a secure email service once used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been fined $10,000 for failing to give federal agents access to his customers' accounts, newly released court documents show. In August, Ladar Levison shut down Lavabit, his security-minded email business, rather than comply with government …

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Rand Paul

Blimey, I didn't think an intelligent Republican actually existed! Good for him (though I suspect he accidentally joined the wrong party).

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Re: Rand Paul

You did not know Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) is an intelligent Republican? He did join the wrong party, but there isn't actually any right party to join, so you should not criticize him for that. We have the exact same problem in Canada.

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Re: Rand Paul

In defense of Republicans. There are a lot of moderate, intelligent and caring people in that party. They just aren't the ones that get on TV. They're like the bulk of 'Americans', just normal people who want to go about their business.

The Republicans everybody hears and sees are like the fools on that Big Brother or Jersey Shore show. Just like some of their constituents; they are loud, aggressive and not very bright. Judging the entire party by their headline grabbers isn't representative of the whole.

*I am not a Republican

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rand Paul

Except when the headline grabbers are the ones who hold the most sway in the party - I refer you to

Exhibit A: Government Shutdown

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Re: Rand Paul

Yeah, Rand Paul is really a libertarian. And, presumably the Kentuckians are too since they have him representing them rather than a more Republican Republican. But he really is not an orthodox Republican. Him and Patrick Leahy are the two people in Congress who have really tried to bring up Constitutional limits rather than just granting more and more power and spending, and have stood alone in voting against a few unconstitutional bills.

The US political system is broken, if one doesn't run as a Democrat or Republican they don't get the votes. The combination of all 3rd parties may get 10% of the vote, polls tend to not even include them (I got two political polling calls where one gave no 3rd party option and the second said "press 9 for someone else", then said the choice was invalid and hung up), then polls are like "0.1% 3rd party vote", a little surprise later when actual vote is a little higher. I've heard people say "I'm throwing away my vote" if they vote for who they want, they suck it up and vote Dem or Rep even if they don't like either candidate. There is no coalition building among 4 or 5 parties to get things done, there is an "us versus them" attitude since there's not enough 3rd party representation to force a compromise to break stalemates.

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Re: Rand Paul

I suspect a lot here will be even more shocked when they find out that he is not only a Republican but from the dreaded faction that likes to party with tea and that naturally bends the noses of many.

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Re: Rand Paul

I wonder if any of the fluffy wonderful democrats will be swooping in to help because they are obviously the defenders of the people.

It amazes me how easily people can stop thinking and assume one party is good and one party is evil (in any country). The parties are made up of good and bad people and it is the ones who hold sway who direct it. A country couldnt be handed over to just the left or just the right because they would screw it up by going too far with their views. Both have extremists.

There are plenty nutty democrats as well as nutty republicans and the most important thing to notice is the people vote for them. Its a democracy.

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Re: Rand Paul

When there's a "none of the above" as standard on the ballots, then it's a democracy. Until then, it doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always wins.

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Re: Rand Paul

I wonder if any of the fluffy wonderful democrats will be swooping in to help because they are obviously the defenders of the people.

It amazes me how easily people can stop thinking and assume one party is good and one party is evil (in any country). The parties are made up of good and bad people and it is the ones who hold sway who direct it. A country couldnt be handed over to just the left or just the right because they would screw it up by going too far with their views. Both have extremists.

There are plenty nutty democrats as well as nutty republicans and the most important thing to notice is the people vote for them. Its a democracy.

Case-in-point... One Mr. Harry Ried D-NV Senate Majority Leader. Who obliviously hates your cancer Kid!

BASH: But if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?

REID: Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you’re irresponsible and reckless –

BASH: I’m just asking a question.

Whats actually more amazing is the fact that Mrs. Bash was a CNN Reporter....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rand Paul

"He did join the wrong party, but there isn't actually any right party to join"

That is a common problem affecting all one party 'democracies'. This was described some time ago by one advocate as "There is no alternative".

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Re: Rand Paul

@ Number6

"When there's a "none of the above" as standard on the ballots, then it's a democracy. Until then, it doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always wins."

I have this debate occasionally with many students (obviously almost all liberal) who say this. Do you want public services? yes. Do you want police, helathcare, power, etc? yes. And you want to vote that nobody runs it? erm...well...erm.

When the people want a "none of the above" option it is the fault of the people for being spoiled (I know this will upset people). We know we need people to run the country. So we need people up there worth voting for. If there is nobody worth voting for then the people should put someone forward. If there is nobody worth voting for then it is the fault of the people for not putting somebody up worth voting for (or somebody standing up).

We wont always get what we want because it is the opinions of many people and most wont agree. Whatever gov we have will upset someone. Often a lot of people. 'None of the above' wont change this, in fact it is the opposite of changing anything.

If people wont vote for somebody worth voting for then how do you convince a group of people from walking off the cliff edge? People are voting for democrats or republicans. The other choices dont get a look in because nobody will vote for them. The US country has come to a halt. Not because their government is broken and republicans/democrats are evil but because their democracy is working. Their government is split into president and houses to ensure neither can run off and do something stupid (like bankrupt the country) without support from the rest of the gov. And the people in the various sections of the gov are all voted for.

There will always be a government which is a few to represent the many. So you are right that the gov always wins because it always exists, but it is the people who choose who is in the gov.

Britain got shafted by the last gov and this gov doesnt seem to have learned. But it is the people who were happy to keep voting for the gov who offered bribes with our own money. The people and the gov were spending like mad on credit, it was insane (still is). But it is the people who said it was ok because the people voted for the leaders.

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Re: Rand Paul @Michael Habel

“If Obongocare is so great why is it then that the President, Congress, Federal Judges, 1,200 Big Corporations + the Unions can have a stay of execution for another Year, while the rest of the US has to suffer the Guinea Pig experimentation phase?”

1) This is about the NSA, not “Obamacare”

2) Obongocare? Really? I’m not one for being PC, but I’m pretty sure any point you may have loses all value with reasonable people when you throw what looks a lot like a racial slur into the mix.

3) Congress and Unions ‘exempt’ from the healthcare bill for a year? I suggest you start reading sites like Snopes, and factcheck.org, in fact, here is a hand link http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/factchecking-pernicious-obamacare-claims/

4) “Guinea Pig experimentation phase” Yes, because the US is the first country in the world to have done this, and it is not more or less a privatized version of a system that preceded Obamacare by a number of years in place, oh, I don’t know, lets pick one at random, that very large country to the North of the USA?

5) If its good enough and works for members of the Army, Navy and Air force, and has been in place for a long long time, why is it not good enough for you?

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Re: Rand Paul

A downvote for 'Obongocare' I'm afraid...

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Re: Rand Paul

Obongocare? None of that racist crap here, please.

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Re: Rand Paul

Hey Mr. Habel, stop being a trolling dick.

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Re: Rand Paul

Not that I particularly care one way or another what you think of your president, but your opinion is rendered immediately invalid by the racist epithet of calling him 'Obongo'.

In actual reference to the story, rather than the ugly opinions of some posters here, I think that closing down the service in the face of the US secret police having access to all users' data, in real time was the only vialbe option that anyone with a conscience could take. To criticise this as 'borderline illegal' illustrates some serious wrong-headedness.

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Re: Rand Paul

Your diatribe misses certain key points.

One - you assume that the system is set up to fairly allow anyone from the population to be represented for political election. It is not. You need the money to be advertised in every region, on every medium. You need for no groups, industries or cliques to have any influence or power over political parties or candidates.

Two - the use of the term 'the people' implies an entity with knowledge of how to play the electoral system that has been carefully set up using an apparatus that is extremely self-serving. A system where lawyers have more power than anyone else is going to remain that way, since law is subsequently used to crush anyone and the judicial and military system will make sure that it stays that way. The 'people' do not have candidates because, in the main, they have no say or idea how to say who should be on a ballot.

Three - the 'none of the above' option is not about not wanting anyone in power. To believe so seems to be either extremely narrowminded or deliberately facetious. It is an expression that the candidates or political parties are not worthy of the position to which their organisations are trying to place them, according to the populace. 'None of the above' should force a re-candidacy from the political parties for that election.

The system is viewed as 'broken' because it is a system that, somehow, manages to always put forward candidates from the same schools, universities, or walks of life.

Britain's 'the people' were not happy to keep voting for the 'gov'. If you notice, more and more people are not bothering to vote - and that fact is being taken and deliberately spun with the standard bullshit line 'well, if you don't vote how can you complain?'. The simple answer is that, with the way the system operates at present, 'the people' feel it makes little difference which way they vote. The same group of people will be in power, and if 'the people' truly feel none of the candidates is worth voting for, they still don't get to stop them from being placed into positions of authority.

If you also notice, governments have had the power to change the voting system to best suit their own preferences. This is a shocking, disgusting lapse - but again, 'the people' are not an entity with a singular mind or, more importantly, any idea how to play the legal in-and-out battles of the wealthy or privileged.

We also live with a media system (heavily influenced by those in power) that encourages people to judge by image. People are more bothered as to whether a person has a bead of sweat run down the side of their face during a live TV debate over their credentials and skills. Leaders of political parties are the only ones who speak out before elections. Why there aren't minimum standards for government positions is absolutely beyond many of us. Science ministers and Education ministers and Chancellors (and more) who have not had any previous positions or specific education or training in their fields are allowed to take seats.

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Re: Rand Paul

I recall watching Tony Blair raise the point that voting numbers were on the slide a few years back, and his solution was to somehow "engage" with the 20-40 demographic. As usual with Tony his apparent sincerity was undermined by his actions, specifically ordering the invasion and occupation of Iraq in direct opposition to the overwhelming majority of public opinion.

The largest protests in the history of the "Worlds oldest Democracy", featured vast numbers of the demographic he felt should be voting more. I am pretty sure Tony is not a cretin, so he must be capable of making the connection between doing the exact opposite of what the electorate want vs electoral participation, I am guessing that he was worried because the British government looks less popular with the voters than Bob Mugabe.

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Re: Rand Paul

@ Atonnis

You give a long explanation of how the system is rigged but defend the option 'None of the above' while accepting we need someone to run the country. So are you suggesting this new option will fix anything? Not a hope. Instead the same people will exist in power while you wont vote for anyone, or the ones you dont want but can afford media time will continue to sit there and wait for the vote you still wont have further choice in.

If it requires such heavy media influence to get voted then it is the people at fault if they vote for whoever appears on TV. If they are willing to vote for someone they dont want because they pop up on TV then the people are to blame. In Italy the new 5 star movement won 20% of the vote using the internet and loud voices. If people want change then it is up to them to make change. Isnt that the point of the people being armed and having all these freedoms to ensure the democracy. What you are saying is that people dont care and will vote whoever is on TV.

You also say that more and more people dont vote in britain. What muppets. If most people stop voting nothing changes, we just get the same 2 parties and the 3rd one watching. If they vote for change and they make the effort to make a choice then we have democracy. Those who cant be bothered are letting the parties they dont like win. UKIP seem to be making waves of this sort because people unhappy with the parties on the right and the people who couldnt be bothered voting are voting for them. This applies for any party.

You finish saying that people are encouraged to judge by image. That is the same as saying people are stupid. Maybe they are, maybe they aint. Because they dont vote your way doesnt mean they are stupid. But if they are so stupid to be too lazy to think then we dont deserve a good party because they will be hated by all the stupid people anyway. I wonder if those people would be complaining as you are about the 'influenced' people.

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Re: Rand Paul

If there is no-one worth voting for, then it is a sign that the lower-level politics via which canidates get onto the ballot are flawed.

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Headmaster

Re: Rand Paul

"Blimey, I didn't think an intelligent Republican actually existed!"

There are plenty. I had the pleasure of seeing Rand Paul filibuster over the drone policies when I visited the US and it was impressive.

The difference between the Democrats and Republicans seems to be that the crazy Democrats never seem to run for office, or get very far if they do.

I note Michael Habel is trolling and offering Harry Reid as an example of a crazy Dem, who "obliviously" hates cancer kids. Nice spinning, but you've handily missed out a line from the 3-person conversation which changes entirely the context:

Bash: “But if you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, to Bash, “Why pit one against the other?”

Sen. Reid: “Why would we want to do that?”

Reid was in effect saying the idea of running piece-meal budget bills was nuts, and to quote him in the same question "what gives them the right to choose which parts of the government are funded?". There's a cruel irony that this healthcare that is currently unfunded, is due to a Republican congress that wants to unpick the healthcare reforms brought in by Obama.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rand Paul

> When the people want a "none of the above" option it is the fault of the people for being spoiled [...] If there is nobody worth voting for then it is the fault of the people for not putting somebody up worth voting for (or somebody standing up).

For any realistic chance to succeed these people would have to join the Democrats or Republicans where they get whipped into shape if they are to get anywhere at all. Happens all the time, that's a US dilemma.

There's a benefit to having an option to vote for "none of the above" as an alternative to just not voting at all. People put it down to laziness or disinterest in politics whenever there's a large number of people not voting.

Well, I think if you did offer the "none of the above" option, someone could express the sentiment "no, I'm not too lazy to get out and vote and yes in fact I'm keen to but I strongly feel that you are not offering acceptable options". And that's a very different and much stronger message that cannot as easily be brushed under the carpet. The size of the group that makes the choice to vote this way is quite interpretable and might just help people realise there's a need for real change.

The two-party system and impossibility of coalition governments in the US is a bit of a joke, really.

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Voting "none of the above"

Society without government has been extensively discussed (and tried), but came out of fashion quite a while ago. Google for anarchy if you want more.

Government and related bureaucracies like to grow. Arguably this has led to the downfalls of societies (see, e.g.: "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"). How to scale back without reaching anarchy, say via a revolution, remains a mystery. In Europe, people believed for centuries that every generation requires a war to reset the priorities. We fortunately went beyond that phase and, luckily, our rich societies can afford a lot of waste and inefficiencies without going bankrupt so it went OK for now.

I guess the tea party offers one possible path towards smaller government. So go ahead and call them anarchists, I am sure they'll like it!

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Re: Rand Paul

You people who are tossing around unfounded criticisms of the Republican party are clueless and wholely uninformed about who we are. There are certainly some Republicans I don't agree with and those would be ones who are referred to as Moderates, as well as the old Republican Guard types who love power, money and politics. Republicans of all stripes know that Conservatives are out to clean house and get rid of all of the Moderates and RINOs in our Grand Ol' Party. Now, it could be far left or far right government types who will abuse power, which is really what this is all about. Snowden has given us a glimpse into the corruption and treachery within the intelligence agencies and I'm glad I know it, but Snowden made some serious judgement errors in how he went about all of this.

In the USA, the most significant problem we face is the attack on our Constitution by Barack Obama and other radical Marxists, Socialists, and Progressives in our government like him. The left are historically notorious for their mass killings and viciousness. Cross one in your own little area of life and you'll see how viloent they are. Obama is wrecking the ONLY nation of light this world has ever known, and it's not just him. This has been in the works for many decades - remember Woodrow Wilson.

Conservatives are finally waking up and we're ready for the fight. We have the most formidable armament of all - the TRUTH. The truth is like a bright shining light. You either bathe in it or you run into the darkness to escape it. We are coming and we are bringing truth and victory with us.

-- N00pSled

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Re: Rand Paul

I do make the assertion that the current system is rigged, and I don't defend the 'none of the above' option - I explain why it SHOULD be an option. Defence implies there is anything wrong with it. Giving more choice to the electorate can never be a wrong thing, thus it requires no defence. In response to your assertion that the 'none of the above' option will leave the people in power in power, I fail to see why. We have an apparatus already in place that exists to perform the will of the elected people. If no-one is voted in this apparatus is capable of keeping things running, under the policies of the last people put into power, without the whole country collapsing. The UK government (ie party-in-power) is only really required to make policy changes, not actually run the day-to-day. That is the job of the civil service.

You say if people stop voting nothing changes - but the problem is that even when people do vote, nothing changes. This is because we are stuck in a system which does not force balance in political situations. In any electoral situation, all candidates should be given equal media space and time. Remove the economical power of the elite few and you will start to get true representation - and all the chaos that it will provide.

UKIP aren't making anywhere near the ground that radio stations like LBC (the Daily Mail of the airwaves) would have you believe.

It is a disgusting misrepresentation, and typical of people locked in their thinking, to declare people who don't vote as 'those who cant be bothered'. There are a vast number of people who don't vote, not because they can't be bothered, but because they aren't represented by any of the parties - and as I tried to get across in my first post - they have no idea how to get represented, because the system is deliberately difficult and confusing, expensive and elitist.

Personally, I think that people *are* stupid. Not because of the way they vote, but because of the actual reasons they vote the way they do. Too many people live within one or two Sun newspaper stories around election times, and it's sad.

There are two ways I could see of going about things properly. One would be to make it a legal requirement that anyone on the electoral roll vote in elections. This would then force people to actually take some sort of note of who they're voting for....eventually. It would take a couple of decades for people to learn about the realities of their choices, but at least they would, hopefully, eventually learn.

The other is to either allow people to vote for policies rather than parties, or candidates to roles instead of overall parties and whomsoever they present for jobs after elected. The first gives more power to the people but would cause absolute collapse as everyone voted which ever way Simon Cowell wanted. The second seems more viable. If you are presented with two sets of credentials and policies for the position of Chancellor, would you vote for the Conservative with a degree in The History of Art who was a director of the BBC for three years, or the Lib-Dem with the degree in Economics who was Finance Director for GlaxoSmithKline for three years? I use those made up examples for illustration only. Of course, this method of election would require people to have attention spans longer than minnows, and so would probably not succeed.

Oh, and just to shoot down your dumbass theory about whether people would be complaining as I am, and carefully trying to misrepresent how I think in the process. I'm actually relatively happy with the current elected setup. Given the system that we currently have, I think we ended up in the best of a really shitty situation.

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Re: Voting "none of the above"

What a load of bollocks. We live in a different society now. We have a legal infrastructure, with facilities and capabilities powered by law that keeps running regardless of what party is in power. Just because elections are on doesn't mean everyone and everything stops working. You can't go out and commit crimes without punishment, the roads are still swept, and the financial system somehow keeps ticking on.

In the UK we have enough infrastructure and red tape that political parties in power are only good for two things - changing policies and creating new ones. They don't keep the country moving.

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Re: N00pSled Re: Rand Paul

Obvious troll bait.

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The federal government has become the enemy.

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That happened during the mid 1900s if not sooner.

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"has" become?

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The federal government ....

.... was elected by the American electorate. So you are saying that the American electorate voted against your vital interests. Good luck with that one.

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Re: The federal government ....

The US political system is effectively rigged. Not in the sense of having votes falsified, but just in the way that getting ahead requires a giant pile of money for campaign spending and access to party resources. No matter how good your ideas it is practically impossible to get in without joining one of the big two teams and agreeing to follow their party line. The only people who have managed to even come close are those like Ross Perot who are rich enough to spend millions of dollars of their own money on campaigning.

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Re: The federal government ....

Yes. Approximately half of the US electorate actively votes against the other half. The vast majority of voters do not understand the issues they support/decry, only what the media tells them. That's true of most voters on both sides of the aisle. The vote based on party affiliation, not knowledge. They vote to stop 'the other side' from doing something.

The only area where US opinion is so evenly split is voting. The thing is those numbers are a manufactured anamoly. The two parties have divided the issues so precisely down the middle that neither party reflects the views of that majority. That's why the platforms are so ridiculously contradictory to themselves. Add in gerrymandering and active disenfranchisement and you've got a completely worthless indication of the nation.

If you asked three 'Americans' the best way to boil an egg, you'd get five answers. We don't agree on anything, coming together into two camps over something as big as politics is outright bullshit. We've been herded into two camps and are forced to attack the other side instead of trying to find common ground. It is really fucking stupid and isn't right, but the system to change the status quo is also rigged. Choose A or B there is no C.

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Re: The federal government ....

> If you asked three 'Americans' the best way to boil an egg, you'd get five answers. We don't agree on anything, coming together into two camps over something as big as politics is outright bullshit. We've been herded into two camps and are forced to attack the other side instead of trying to find common ground. It is really fucking stupid and isn't right, but the system to change the status quo is also rigged. Choose A or B there is no C.

Puts me in mind of the "war" in 1984. Keep the prols blind to the real issues by keeping them angry about something that is meaningless...

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What he should do is the ultimate snub, leave the country and give up his citizenship, he can then set his business back up in any country he chooses, carry on earning his living and tell the NSA to get lost!

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Except the US has that base covered, too. Most other western-friendly countries have cooperation agreements if not outright mutual defence treaties with the US, meaning if the US makes a decent case, they'll do the work for them. The only other nations left then are those hostile to the west like Russia and China. Problem is, they have their OWN agendas and are just as bad. IOW, you're gonna bend over no matter where you go.

Furthermore, at least the US didn't threaten to jail him for not disclosing the key: just fined him. The UK has a law in the books that demands a minimum two years for the same offence. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't put HIS OWN account into the same mix and then plea the fifth, saying disclosing the private key would compromise his own account, potentially resulting in self-incrimination.

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Except you're assuming that the constitution is somehow relevant to these matters...

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The 5th wouldn't help as the SSL key is something you have not something you know. The 5th just stops them from asking for your password if they key is encrypted.

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"The only other nations left then are those hostile to the west like Russia... "

Is Russia hostile as such? I'd have said it was just very defensive in the face of decades of open and covert attacks by America, some of which came bloody close to killing us all. "Hostile" makes it sound unreasonable, IMO.

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Anonymous Coward

> he should ... leave the country and ... set his business back up in any country he chooses

"“Some people have suggested moving the service overseas,” said Levison. “Even if I found somewhere secure overseas, it would be hard logistically. My life is here in the States. It would be hard for me to move to another city let alone another country.”" --> http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/08/09/lavabits-ladar-levison-if-you-knew-what-i-know-about-email-you-might-not-use-it/

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Tell that to that one Congress during the Kennedy Administration (I think) that got a whole lotta Fifths. The thing is, if what you are compelled to disclose could result in the revelation of culpatory evidence, you are at risk of self-incrimination. I'm sure a lawyer could make a case on those grounds and drag the proceedings for months if not years.

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Thanks Mr. Levison

His last name is actually Levison. I respect what he did, but I would not be willing to go to jail if I was served with a secret order for my secure messaging site, ThreadThat. Currently, I have posted a statement on the login page that I have not received any secret orders and should the notice disappear, users should take heed. I hope that Mr. Levison does not serve any jail time and that his actions result in change that benefits us all.

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Re: Thanks Mr. Levison

Wouldn't that be revealing a secret court order hence still be violating it?

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Re: Thanks Mr. Levison

You need to find a way for your customers to quickly find out if you suddenly order 800 reams of printer paper.

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Re: Thanks Mr. Levison

Reading comprehension HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT? See the Third Paragraph quoted here for your enjoyment...

At the time, a gag order prevented him from discussing the details of his situation. But court documents unsealed on Wednesday reveal that the FBI wanted Levinson to hand over encryption keys that would have given federal agents "real time" access to not just Snowden's account, but the accounts of all 40,000 of Lavabit's customers.

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Re: Thanks Mr. Levison

<quote> Currently, I have posted a statement on the login page that I have not received any secret orders and should the notice disappear, users should take heed.</quote>

There are three main reasons for the notice to disappear:

1. The NSA spying thing blows over, so you remove it

2. You receive an order to remove such a notice

3. You receive an order which makes the notice false.

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Anonymous Coward

He is a total legend.

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Sil

Outrageous

To ask for the main key that gives access to all 40000 customers' communications is downright outrageous and I'm sure illegal when there were indeed sufficient possibilities to only intercept Snowden's comms. But you would have to be seriously rich to battle the government in court.

Levinson really deserves a medal to remind the NSA and the so called court, even for a few days, that there is a limit to total impunity.

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Re: Outrageous

How can it be illegal when the NSA demanded it ?

They are part of the government and everything the government does is legal by definition.

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