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back to article Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers

Ladar Levison, owner of the now-defunct Lavabit email service, could be facing a heavy fine after an appeals court ruled that he failed to properly contest the government's attempts to install taps on his servers. Lavabit was the secure email service picked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as the repository of his personal …

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The result was entirely predictable, but depressing none-the-less.

Not posted as Anon, as any governmental body that might be interest enough would have seen though that fig-leaf anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Set up a fund...

where we can donate to help pay the fine. Reward integrity and send a big FU at the same time!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Set up a fund...

You have my Bitcoin...

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Anonymous Coward

"turned down Levison's appeal against the contempt charge"

...."not on the grounds that he was being forced to hand over control of his servers, but because he didn’t seriously challenge the legality of the government's request in court the first time."

That's pretty callous isn't it... He was being charged five grand a day after G-men showed up at his door unannounced. That's a hefty sum and definitely enough to distract you from knowing how to play the legal game that the G-men specialize in...

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Re: "turned down Levison's appeal against the contempt charge"

So let me get this straight. He was asked to provide the keys so that the g-men could snoop on the data they were "entitled to" and refused. They take a court order out to force him to, and he stands fast for 2 days before relenting and challenging the legality of the request, in the meanwhile axing the service - and that is contemptuous because he should have taken them to court the first time they asked?

What planet does this judge live on?

If a copper came around my house and asked for my keys "because terrorism", I'll tell him to leave and slam the door in his face, not take him to court for asking. If he then persists, bringing back a court order, then that is the appropriate time to take it to court, surely. That is surely how escalation works.

Otherwise you'll be in contempt next time you don't take a policeman to court should they pull you over for speeding when you weren't (faulty speed gun, for instance). Rather than fighting it once you have the ticket, like any sane, normal member of society would.

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick here?

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Re: Or have I got the wrong end of the stick here?

Yes, you do.

What the appeals judge wrote in somewhat plainer English is: Levison didn't raise the issue on which he is appealing at court when he initially challenged the ruling. Since he didn't raise the issue in the first court, the first court axiomatically can't have issued a decision that improperly applied the law. Which is fundamental logic. This is a tenderfoot lawyer mistake. But you can't hold the lower court guilty for not considering an argument it didn't hear, which is effectively what overturning a lower court decision is.

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FAIL

Judges protecting judges ... and the administration

Judges always like to protect their own, unless there is an egregious error in law. And, after all, their future promotions depends on keeping the administration happy.

Given the plethora of encrypted communication Apps, along with TOR and TAILS, etc., there are plenty of alternatives which can provide more than adequate protection against the long snouts of the Peeping Toms in GCHQ and the NSA.

Should be reaching 'dusk' in Gloucestershire and Maryland as more and more people adopt privacy practices. The Freedom-Fighters/Criminals/Crazies are already well on their way to making things more difficult.

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Unhappy

Another good day for an out of control government bureaucracy

Another bad day for a law abiding society that cares about privacy and proportionate surveillance.

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Big Brother

Catch 22

He could argue that he hired a secret lawyer to contest his case in a secret court. Of course he is bound by law not to reveal any of these details or if he did in fact do any of them. Allegedly.

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America

The American government is a huge disgrace. They do what they want, and with no negatives from anyone.

I think the American people need to stand up for them selves.

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Re: America

What makes you think that other governments are really any different ?

BTW: I assume that you are talking about the USA, America is a continent.

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Re: America

The USA: from a country that once proudly considered itself the champion of "the people" and a defender of individual liberty throughout the world to huddled masses of insecure internet commenter delusionairily defending the wrongdoing of their government with "everyone else is as crap as we are" in as little as three generations.

Sad.

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Bronze badge

living a lie

All those years we thought we were the good guys, we had freedom, rights to privacy, government of the people with proper oversight, and so on... it was a lie, and it has been for some time.

The most powerful dictatorship is the one in which the majority of people are convinced that it isn't really a dictatorship at all, by having a few crumbs such as 'free and fair' elections thrown at them every few years to give the illusion of choice. Surely the fact it makes no difference what government gets in should have been ringing the alarm bells, but apparently not.

In the UK, it emerged that Prince Charles actually has special powers, largely secret, to lobby and veto policies by the democratically elected government. The Guardian has been fighting unsuccessfully to reveal the scale of use of these too:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/12/attorney-general-unlawful-prince-charles-letters

Yet this quite huge constitutional issue has got hardly any coverage outside of the Guardian.

Here, look at these six pages of photos of some nice looking baby on holiday in New Zealand, please don't ask what his grandad has been up to in the UK and the compliant 'journos' will all get gongs in a few years while those at the Guardian will get added to no-fly lists or shaken down every time they even transit a 'friendly' country.

The rich and powerful are fully in control in the US too of course:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/08/rich-people-rule/?tid=pm_politics_pop

They're all at it... more power at the top, but don't let the people know about it and there is little they can do about it because most simply don't know enough to care.

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Re: living a lie

In the UK, it emerged that Prince Charles actually has special powers, largely secret, to lobby and veto policies by the democratically elected government. The Guardian has been fighting unsuccessfully to reveal the scale of use of these too

Dunno about you, but I'm rather pleased that Charlie boy and his mum have been busy keeping an eye on the last three numpties who've occupied the PM's seat and kicked their shins when needed. At least they seem to know what they're doing, have much more work experience that the average PM and appear to be much less self-serving too.

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Re: living a lie

It would be fair to assume that as soon as anything threatens the wealth of their estates they would become as self-serving as anyone else. However, they seem less likely to browbeat the country into military misadventures than anyone else that's been in No.10 recently.

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Meh

Re: living a lie

history shows that was not always the case. Look up Charles I and George III, and the latter GW II.

All modern power structures are "feedback free" on the time scales of their adventures. If there was any personal danger on initiating a military campaign, there would be a lot fewer...

P.

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Re: living a lie

But you still don't know what is in Chaz's letters to ministers. And you probably never will. So you're really just guessing what him and the Queen think. Not that it would matter if you did know, since you don't get to choose your head of state anyway in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: living a lie

I'll swallow the idea of monarchy the day our reigning monarch leads the troops into battle in a return match against the French. Wars just aren't the same since we started picking uneven fights with people armed with sharpened fruit, but an authentic Camembert Normandie on the other hand can be utterly lethal in the hands of a skilled opponent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: living a lie

> I'll swallow the idea of monarchy the day our reigning monarch leads the troops into battle

And I'll swallow the idea of "democracy" the day a serving politician does that.

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Re: living a lie

"In the UK, it emerged that Prince Charles actually has special powers, largely secret, to lobby and veto policies by the democratically elected government."

I call bollocks. If these "powers" are secret then they don't exist. Logically, the act of using them would require that they be made public, or else no-one would know what they'd been compelled to do against their will. Since that hasn't happened, we can conclude that they haven't ever been used. They are a figment of the Graun's over-active imagination.

It is true that Chaz has the ear of ministers, like many other lobbyists. However, the blame, er, responsibility, for the actual decisions rests entirely with the ministers involved. That's why we spit contempt for the ministers whenever they roll over for the lobbyists. We don't say "Oh, you cruel lobbyist forcing the nice minister to be a complete pratt.". We say "You complete pratt, listening to a pathetic lobbyist.".

And then we vote them back in for some reason, but I digress...

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Re: living a lie

I have been mulling with changing our current 'representative parliamentary democracy' (ha!) system back to a feudal one.

I can't see any downside. We're already treated as vassals, so we might as well formalise the relationship. You get much more spectacular ceremonials with a feudal system, and, crucially, all the people at the various levels really do have to deliver - up to the Kings and the Barons, who are expected to go into battle first, with big markers tied onto them.

It would brighten my declining years to see an armoured RBS Bank Director at the head of a charge in the Ukraine against a similarly attired Russian Oligarch.

Oh, and the executions are much more entertaining as well...

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Let's not forget

That in the UK, it's been the _monarchy_ (from Victoria+Albert onwards) who have campaigned to improve the lot of the poor, often in the face of govt opposition.

In a lot of cases they've acted as a restraining hand on some of the worst excesses - if the Queen said "I don't think this is a good idea" to Dave or Tony do you think they'd have pushed on regardless?

Unlike politicians (who only care about the next press release/election) the monarchy are generally in it for the long haul and would prefer that they don't find themselves run up a flagpole, etc. It's because of that that most royals can live a relatively unmolested life and not need 30 bodyguareds simply to go down to the shops.

Yes, Charles has borked a few things over the years(*) but his track record is still better than Tony or Dave can ever be.

(*) Mainly utterly fugly building plans, even if his weren't much better.

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Anonymous Coward

"On Wednesday the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, turned down Levison's appeal against the contempt charge – not on the grounds that he was being forced to hand over control of his servers, but because he didn’t seriously challenge the legality of the government's request in court the first time."

Then maybe the court shouldn't have rubber stamped that court order then. Maybe the federal government should have been told to send a complaint to Lavabit so that he had 30-days to respond; then and only then should the judge have issued the court order; after both sides had to say what had to be said. I'm not talking about a full on trial, just a meeting of all parties and then let the judge decide if the court order is called for.

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Big Brother

Feds demanding the encryption keys?

`After Snowden went public with his identity, the Feds came knocking on Levison's door, demanding the encryption keys to his servers under US "pen register" and "trap and trace" statutes'.

The solution being to keep the keys on the client computers. Something like Hushmail used to do, but inexplicably took back in-house, else how could they have handed over cleartext copies of private emails? If the email provider can read your emails, then it ain't private ...

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