Ed Snowden's Email Provider, Lavabit, Shuts Down To Fight US Gov't Intrusion

from the standing-on-principles dept

Early on in the Snowden leaks, it was revealed that Snowden himself was using email services from an operation called Lavabit, which offered extremely secure email. However, today Lavabit's owner, Ladar Levison, shut down the service, claiming it was necessary to do so to avoid becoming "complicit in crimes against the American people." Not much more information is given, other than announced plans to fight against the government in court. Reading between the lines, it seems rather obvious that Lavabit has been ordered to either disclose private information or grant access to its secure email accounts, and the company is taking a stand and shutting down the service while continuing the legal fight. It's also clear that the court has a gag order on Levison, limiting what can be said.

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Sincerely,
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Apparently there were just over 400,000 email accounts on Lavabit at the time they shut down -- victims of the US government trying to spy on certain email accounts.

It's not difficult to make an educated guess as to what happened. The Feds went to Lavabit demanding access to Ed Snowden's email. Lavabit refused. The feds went to (secret) court and the (secret) court said (in secret) that Lavabit had to turn over the information. And Lavabit's response is noble: it is shutting down and fighting in court, rather than becoming a pawn in this and compromising the trust and reputation its built up over the years. Lavabit also includes a link on their site for a legal defense fund.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Jay (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Credit where due

    I know that had to be one of the hardest decisions to make in quite some time. Instead of compromising even one person, Lavabit shut down the entire service and made the US look even worse than in everything else that Snowden has been leaking.

    I honestly don't know how this can continue. Given that this is in the 5th Circuit which believes more in the law and order type of precedents, it seems that Lavabit is in for a tough road of fighting for the Constitution.

    Godspeed in some very important cases...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

      Re: Credit where due

      The article says it's the 4th circuit.

       

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      Ninja (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 3:24am

      Re: Credit where due

      That. This is probably causing much, much more damage than Snowden could ever do with his leaks. Maybe it was somewhat his intentions all along, to make the Govt freak out and simply run over any tiny bit of logic.

      Now..

      Lavabit also includes a link on their site for a legal defense fund.

      SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

      I'm kind of short on money. But this is worth the sacrifice.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    t's not difficult to make an educated guess as to what happened. The Feds went to Lavabit demanding access to Ed Snowden's email.

    I suspect it was a demand to gain access to all emails, not just Snowdons. The NSA seems to think it is entitles to see every bodies communications, and that the FISA court is their to grant them that access.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      I agree. The lavabit service agreement (now only available on internet archive services such as the wayback machine) states that lavabit will turn over material on an individual if there is a court order. Almost certainly there was a court order for Snowden's emails and, per the service agreement, lavabit likely complied with this. However, if outside powers demanded to have a "backdoor" put in to see the email of many or all users, this would put lavabit in the position of being "omplicit in crimes against the American people" and thus leading to the shutdown.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    :( NOOOO

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:32pm

    I recently signed up for a paid account there and was about to switch all my activity over to it. It's a good thing I didn't before the shutdown. It's got to be terrible for everyone that relied on the service, especially for account resets. Ultimately I think the owner did the right thing, but it's chilling because it shows that every email provider in the United States is compromised.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

      Secure email [was Re:]

      … every email provider in the United States is compromised.


      I'm willing to listen on port 2525 for ESMTP connections carrying email traffic which is GPG-encrypted for one of my public keys.

      The GPG requirement is an anti-spam measure: Any traffic that cannot be decrypted with one of my keys will be silently dropped on the floor. Of course, a spammer could look up my public key just as easily as anyone else. If spammers start doing that, then other measures will be required. Probably white-listing.

       

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      fogbugzd (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      I had an account there, too. Fortunately I had it set up as POP so nothing stayed on their server (and therefore become "abandoned" in the eyes of the DOJ.

       

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    Richard Kimble, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Alternatives to lavabit.com?

    PRISM-Break.org is listing MyKolab.com as the solution. Hosted in Switzerland. Not all that cheap although they do give reasons, but it seems moving your data to Switzerland is one of the few remaining options for some privacy.

    Does anyone know of other trustworthy providers in Switzerland or perhaps Iceland?

     

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      Geir Bækholt, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Alternatives to lavabit.com?

      If what you need is secure communication, Crypho https://www.crypho.com is a good alternative. It doesn't offer email, but persistent chat rooms and file transfers.

      All data is end-to-end encrypted, however, with keys only held by the end users. — so that the data cannot be given up, even under pressure.

      It is hosted in Norway, and operates under Norwegian jurisdiction — Which is as good an alternative as Iceland or Switzerland.

      ( disclaimer: i work with Crypho. )

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

      Re: Alternatives to lavabit.com?

      I use Runbox for primary email now. Highly recommend it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re: Alternatives to lavabit.com?

        I just signed up for Runbox. Only complaint: The site is in English, but when you get to the part to put in credit card info, the form labels are in Norwegian. Most of what was what was obvious, but I had to look at the HTML source to make sure I was hitting Submit instead of Cancel.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

      Re: Alternatives to lavabit.com?

      Just so you know, that won't stop them intercepting your messages as they re-enter the us.

       

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    Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Well, technicality speaking, at least Snowden is protected by Ex-post facto...meaning He cannot be charged with a crime he allegedly committed before a law has passed to prevent said crime.

     

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      Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      And come to think of it, Ladar Levison should also be protected.

       

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        Ben (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        If you think "they" can't find some statute in the encyclopedia they call the US Criminal Code that could go after them, I think you are sadly mistaken. IIRC there is even a law which says if you break *another* country's law, they can go after you (really! and you don't even need to be in that other country; there's a youtube video called Don't Talk to Police which mentions it...)

        There are several instances where the US has made things illegal after the fact -- the laws around the SuperFund sites being one of them, so the "ex post facto" limitation is not 100%.

         

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          Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "There are several instances where the US has made things illegal after the fact -- the laws around the SuperFund sites being one of them, so the "ex post facto" limitation is not 100%."

          While this is true, one must remember the shutdown involved an unwarranted search through Snowden's e-mails through that provider. They are still violating constitutional law with those searches....which Ironically hold no information other than a letter or two about vowing to stay preserved even under torture.

           

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            akp (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Who says they didn't have a warrant? He's been charged with a variety of crimes at this point, and there are any number of judges who would issue a warrant for the search of his home, car, storage units, email, phone records, etc etc.

            Any search of *Snowden's* personal effects and papers are fully within the 4th Amendment.

            I don't think he should be prosecuted, but since he *is* being investigated and prosecuted, the searches of his stuff are entirely legal.

             

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          Anonymous, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          what percent is it then?

           

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      Well, technicality speaking, at least Snowden is protected by Ex-post facto...meaning He cannot be charged with a crime he allegedly committed before a law has passed to prevent said crime.

      Huh?!?

       

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        Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re:

        Well when you think about the fact that due to a recent law which was put in place to disallow anyone from speaking out against the actions of what the NSA does in a service providers servers, clearly it is a violation of certain clauses preventing ex-post facto laws. These FISC laws are slowly building up into a constitutional nightmare for the entire PRISM program as FISC gets more and more greedy from power. They keep adding laws to charge Snowden with after the initial posted allegations of espionage and treason...Snowden is on the international wanted list for those charges so if they keep adding more to conform to his actions, post appearance on the wanted list, to use against him...they are ex-post facto laws. Neither Congress nor any court system, no matter how "secret", have the constitutional power to do that...nobody does...it is prohibited that any level and/or branch of government do that and press charges based upon newly created laws after allegations have been filed and established.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Wally, defying a court order not to speak about the details of a case is still against the law even if there is no other law that you would break by speaking about it. You still have to respect the court order until you successfully challenge it and get it overturned. And the charges they keep adding are not from new laws being passed but prosecutors that find other laws that are already in existence that they can make a legal argument to add to the charges before it goes to trial. If you get a ticket for going 100 miles per hour in a school zone and the prosecutor initially only charges you with speeding, then later before the case goes to court decides to add reckless driving and reckless endangerment to the charges because of the excessive rate of speed and the likely hood of children in the area, you have a situation that is much closer to what is going on here.

           

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            Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes but this was a violation of Constitutional rights. The order is typically nullified when that happens. By the way...a gag order only means a person cannot discuss the case outside of a courtroom, that doesn't mean they cannot protest what is happening to them. The law prevents both as does the order.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's kinda hard to effectively protest something when you aren't allowed to tell anyone much of anything about it.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:30pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                It's kinda like if they said fine, you can have your guns as per the 2nd amendment, we're just going to outlaw bullets.

                 

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                  Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  But outlawing bullets would violate the second amendment as projectiles propelled by a fiery explosion of flammable gasses are an integral part of a firearm wouldn't you say?

                   

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        I think Wally misunderstood his letter. I think he interpreted "Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise." to mean that he thought Congress passed laws specifically to keep him from talking about the matters of the case such that if he talks about things that happened before the the laws were passed then he they don't apply to those things. Of course that's ridiculous because they didn't pass laws specifically for his case, the courts just interpreted the laws to apply to his account, and even if they had made laws specifically to apply to his case, the act of talking about them would occur after the law had been passed. I'm pretty sure Wally is just confused.

         

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          Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The problem is, it is indicated that this specific law was indeed passed to prevent people from outwardly protesting...it was passed around 2 weeks ago as a p[art of a bill that was snookered in as the public was distracted by the IRS and NSA scandals...it goes as far as to having the Secret Service sent after you while protesting a person during a Presidential debate hidden within a clause that disallows protests of funerals for fallen US soldiers.

          In short...they sneaked it in like a North Carolina abortion bill...only the difference was that we were distracted.

          "I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If that's the case, I still don't think that law is what he was referring to.

             

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            Lurker Keith, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It just sounds like he's complaining about already existing gag order laws, which would need to be proven to be Unconstitutional before he could complain in public w/o the associated consequences of violating a Federal Gag Order.

            The "6 weeks" probably is referring to when the data requests started & the gag order was put in place. We're hearing about it now because he lost the first round of trial (hence talking about the 4th Circuit of Appeals) & has to shut down or comply while he appeals.

             

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          Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "even if they had made laws specifically to apply to his case, the act of talking about them would occur after the law had been passed"

          Then the gag order would have to be proven unconstitutional...which it certainly is.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

      Response to: Wally on Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

      That depends on what your definition of 'cannot' is. I'll call your ex post facto protection and raise you a state of de facto tyranus assholes

       

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      Applesauce, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

      Re: ex post facto

      Wally said: "... Snowden is protected by Ex-post facto..."

      This would be true only if we had a government that followed the law.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      Don't worry barry and his gang o' thugs are working on that little glich

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Anyone want to take guesses as to how long before Paypal mysteriously freeze that legal defence fund account for made up reasons?

     

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      Mark Harrill (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      I'll take tomorrow afternoon, since they will release the news late on Friday hoping no one notices.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

      Re:

      Anyone want to take guesses on how long it takes the EFF and ACLU to join him in the fight?

       

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      Ninja (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 3:39am

      Re:

      This will only confirm every single suspicion about the US Govt manipulating the payment processors. I'm kind of wanting to see them do it.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 4:26am

      Re:

      So is it bad that I just gave $100, then? Unless he withdraws the funds before this sort of thing can happen, it’s kind of a waste of money on my part, isn’t it?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

    It's good to see some integrity in the business world for a change.

     

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    Digger, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    1st Amendment

    "Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise."

    Uhm, excuse me???

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Let's see here, Congress shall make NO law ... abridging the freedom of speech....

    Well, that's pretty black and white - the gag order is illegal and tantamount to treason. (as it goes against the constitution, the american people)

    That being said, I believe the gag order could be fought up through SCotUS and do the rest of America a favor making gag orders like these illegal for all time.


    Since the gag order is illegal, it's null and void.

    Sounds like a job for wikileaks to expose more government treason.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      Congress routinely makes laws where it "shall make no law" so what else is new? The majority of Congress doesn't care what the Constitution says or means. All they care about is who is going to fund their re-election campaign.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        That's treason.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

          No, it's not.

          Misuse of the word "treason" has become epidemic of late, by people on all sides of these issues. Can we all just agree to stop using the word before it is stripped of any real meaning?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

            I agree. However, it is a violation of Constitutionally protected civil rights. Does anyone remember when civil rights were something that we thought were important enough to protect?

             

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              John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              Does anyone remember when civil rights were something that we thought were important enough to protect?


              Yes! I remember it like it's today. Because it is.

               

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

            When you swear under oath to protect the constitution and you then don't do it, that is treason.

             

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              John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              No, it's not. The Constitution itself defines treason very clearly and explicitly. And narrowly. Violating an oath to protect the Constitution is not (according to the Constitution) treason.

               

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              Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              As pointed out, that isn't the definition of treason. Since no one else seems to be posting the definition, here you go:

              "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

              The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

               

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                Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

                or... you could scroll down a little further and find that several people have posted the definition before me... derp lol

                 

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 7:06am

          Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

          According to the Constitution:
          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

           

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          btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

          > That's treason.

          Go read the Constitution. It defines treason. Political corruption doesn't qualify.

           

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        Bengie, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        But the Constitution is also a law that is higher than all other laws. If they want to change the Constitution, then they're free to do that, but until then, should should be making no laws that stop free speech.

         

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      That One Guy (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      My memory might be rusty, but I believe there has been at least one case where gag-orders like that were ruled unconstitutional and illegal, though that only matters if the government agencies care to follow the law, so good luck with that.

       

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      Ben (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      It may be illegal, or even, more likely, unconstitutional; it is not treason. If it were treason, then working to make an amendment to the constitution is treason.

      I think a reasonable definition of treason is: The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies

      The US Supreme Court has said that 1st Amendment Rights are not absolute; falsely yelling FIRE in a theater, for example, can be prosecuted. And on (too) many occasions they have said that National Security can take precedence to hold back speech. Unfortunately, from my perspective, they don't ask for proof that National Security is actually involved.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        Bad precedent doesn't make it constitutional. We've seen what they have done with that precedent. They use safety concerns to shut down all dissent in this country now.

         

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          Internet Zen Master (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

          Uh, sorry to break it to you AC, until there's a Supreme Court ruling that says otherwise, the current precedent, regardless of what you make thing of it, is constitutional and therefore legal in the eyes of the court.

          But if you really think it's bad precedent, then by all means try and do something to get the precedent changed (civil disobedience, nonviolence, you get where I'm going with this).

          [As for the yelling fire in a theater bit, I wonder if that's been extended to causing a panic in a room full of people yet (wouldn't be surprised since we're living in a "post-Aurora shooting world").]

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

          None of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are absolute. They can't be, because any of the rights can be exercised in such a way as to violate other guaranteed rights.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

            Please correct me if I misunderstand your constitution. I thought it was not so much defining/granting rights to you, but granting rights to the government and, more importantly, defining limits on what the government can do.

            For example, free speech isn't granted to you, it's something you naturally have, the constitution just places a limit on the government with regards to your free speech.

            If I understand it correctly, at what point did the constitution become less as limiting the government and more as granting the citizens of the USA rights that they naturally have?

             

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              out_of_the_blue, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              @ AC: "at what point did the constitution become less as limiting the government and more as granting the citizens of the USA rights that they naturally have?" -- There's been no single point. It's an ongoing battle of civilization that you'd think people would have caught the pattern by now and guard against gov't and The Rich. -- But they haven't in YOUR country, either!

              What made The United States Of America relatively free has been a LACK of Born Rich (being an adequate meritocracy up to fairly recent, despite the HUGE flaw of slavery) and stands on moral principles, ours actually clearly written: that gov't is a servant of the people, not a tool of The Rich. But as time goes on and privileged kids grow up with everything just handed to them -- especially entitlement to live off laborers -- it has of course run down and is under attack by the perpetual enemies of progress who want to drag us back to savagery. And this time, the tyrants have learned to avoid some mistakes of technique, besides have computers* to surveil us!


              [That'd be Google, among others, not to stint you whom my mention of an amoral mega-corporation seems to annoy, as if you identify with it...]

               

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              Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 6:40pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              "If I understand it correctly, at what point did the constitution become less as limiting the government and more as granting the citizens of the USA rights that they naturally have?"

              That's why we have Amendments...to ensure that no branches of our Government have too much power. This is called checks and balances...unfortunately for us US citizens...whose rights are supposed to be dutifully protected from tyranny of any level concerning ruling powers in the US by the Constitution...are finding it rather difficult to understand why our governmental Administration continues to trample on our basic inalienable human rights to not only self govern our lives within the confines of what is otherwise reasonable law.

              In other words...we are whole heartedly confused as citizens as to why our own current administrators and representatives would be so foolish to violate the rights of the citizens they are supposed to represent.

              You ever hear the term "Corporate Cronyism"? It's often used as a description to the US Congress...well now they are a step above that with "Self serving interests"....they now rarely support honest business establishments and are largely backed by Hollywood.

               

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                btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 4:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

                > That's why we have Amendments...to ensure
                > that no branches of our Government have too
                > much power. This is called checks and balances

                Umm... no. The checks and balances are found in Articles I through III, not in the amendments.

                 

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              John Fenderson (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 10:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

              I thought it was not so much defining/granting rights to you, but granting rights to the government and, more importantly, defining limits on what the government can do.


              This is correct.

              The idea is that there are certain rights, though, that are inalienable. These rights are not granted by the Constitution, but are acknowledged by it.

              Also, we often use a kind of shorthand, talking about certain things (free speech is a good example) as if they are rights granted by the Constitution, when they are not, really. The first amendment prohibits the government from infringing on an inalienable right (free speech). It doesn't grant the right of free speech to citizens, which would be pointless as citizens naturally have that right by virtue of existing. But it conversation, it's easier and quicker to call it a "constitutionally guaranteed right".

              I'm not sure if that clarified things, but it was worth a shot.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 11:54am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

                Unfortunately, I think that shorthand you mention was ultimately a disservice. Thanks to persistently using language that says the right was granted by the Constitution, most people believe that is how it actually works, rather than the truth of the Constitution actually protecting an inalienable right. When one changes the language, one changes perceptions.

                 

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                  John Fenderson (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1st Amendment

                  Yes, you are correct. It's sloppy and bad practice. but it does makes conversations much less unwieldy.

                   

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        btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        > The US Supreme Court has said that 1st
        > Amendment Rights are not absolute; falsely
        > yelling FIRE in a theater, for example, can
        > be prosecuted.

        I don't understand why people constantly cite Schenck v. United States (the fire/theater "clear and present danger" case) when it's no longer even good law. It was overruled by Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969, which held that "the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit the State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action".

         

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      Rekrul, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      That being said, I believe the gag order could be fought up through SCotUS and do the rest of America a favor making gag orders like these illegal for all time.

      What makes you think SCOTUS would actually rule gag orders illegal? It's not like they've been a shining beam of constitutional defense lately...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      No where in the first amendment does it say "unless it's for national security or public safety." The founding father's were crystal clear!

       

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        Rich, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        No, unfortunately, they weren't. Which is why, for example, the courts have interpreted "speech" to include other forms of expression.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        blabla... Living document... blabla... National security... blabla... Constitution article 1 and 2... blabla.

         

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      Anonymous, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      The problem is that the SCOTUS pulls exceptions out of its butt ("Obscenity is not protected", "CP is not protected", etc.), exceptions that are found nowhere in the constitution.

       

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      akp (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

      Re: 1st Amendment

      It's not treason.

      Legally, "treason" has a very, VERY specific definition:

      "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

      The sticking point for many seems to be the definition of "Comfort." It's not "peace of mind," or "laughs," or "agreeing with them." It's straight harboring enemy combatants (like, letting them hide in your house), or giving them money.

      You're not guilty of Treason just for breaking the Constitution.

      Interestingly, the most recent example of *actual* treason was HSBC Bank laundering money for drug cartels and known terrorist organizations.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 12:29am

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        Ah, "terrorist." Another word which means one or more of three things:

        1.) One who disagrees with the government
        2.) Violent criminals
        3.) Please elect me so I can buy another vacation home

         

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        Pragmatic, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re: 1st Amendment

        Interestingly enough, no one went to jail for it, if memory serves. They just got a fine (which was passed to their customers), and that was it.

         

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    Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Another thing...

    I can only imagine what the US Supreme Court will say too since the law in question was created under classified status and cannot be displayed to the Court Justices to determine constitutionality.

    So no matter how you look at it, it seems the NSA has gotten itself into the trap they created for Snowden.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

    BUT instead it willingly turns over all your infos.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/10/tim-wu-google-boycott

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

      Re: That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

      Oh good, you finally figured out that you can stop using Google?

       

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        Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

        If you have had the time to read any past posts I have had about Google...you will find that in no way do I support them or their business practices.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

          that is only because they make a better OS than your beloved Apple

           

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            Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 6:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

            Actually, both have their merits. I just have issues with Google in of itself for various past stated reasons beyond any OS that they've made. The geeky computer nerd in me loves Android for its customizability....but the simplicity guru in me loves iOS. And honestly, in case you were referring to Chrome OS vs. OSX...everything is better than OSX save Windows 8.

            As far as customizability...it's perfectly legal to Jailbreak or "Root" a WiFi only iPad....my favorite mod is getting Mac System 6.0.8 running on an iPad via emulation...some have even taken that as far as modding an iPad to be the screen of a classic Macintosh like the one in my avatar...and surprise, the Apple Bluetooth Keyboards and Mice all work well in Mac OS 6 ^_^

            Now I could get into the history of it until adnoseum...but it has almost nothing to do with the article at hand.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

      Re: That's what Google should do! Too big to prosecute, anyway...

      Shit.

      I thought with the Apple post, we'd at least start getting some variation to the same parroted Google squawking day-in and day-out.

      Wishful thinking on my part. Sigh.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    I can imagine Eric Holder's argument in court about the shutdown:
    link ...ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!

     

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    AW, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    So let me get this straight, with no warning whatsoever, you shut down an email service that most paying customers use for their main email and have no way to reset and then you have the gall to ask me for more money after I've already paid you for service you're no longer going to provide. Listen I'm with you, and had you given me even a single day's notice I might have contributed, but since you couldn't give me the common courtesy of a single day out of 6 weeks of apparent hand wringing, piss off. You've shown I can't trust you to do things properly.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      Paid shill #1.

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      On the contrary, they've show that their users can more than trust them to do things properly.

      When faced with either being forced to hand over client accounts, or shutting down, the proper response is to shut down. It's also the proper response in a business sense; if you advertise your service as being secure, but show that you're willing to hand over user information even if you believe it would be misused, then no-one is going to trust you, or do business with you, in the future.

       

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      Platernian, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 2:12am

      Re:

      Dickhead is, I believe the expression that best represents you. Let us all pray that your arsehole gets infested with the fleas of a thousand camels.

       

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    FM Hilton, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    It gets uglier and uglier

    It's nice to see some moral compasses working in this story, but I'm afraid that all that this will accomplish right now is more paperwork and bills for anyone who wishes to fight the government.

    Tell you a little secret, and it's totally serious:

    The government plays to win, and they will always win one way or another.

    They don't care what the law says, you know. They made the law, ok? What it is today is not what you think it is, and it is their law against you.

    Even if the SC rules in someone else's favor. By that time the government will have destroyed the lives of those who wish to fight it.

    Think I'm kidding? I wish to high heaven I wasn't-but I've been through the grinder before and it's totally rigged against the innocents.

    All that said, I do wish the owner of Lavabits the very best and all the mojo. He's got more credibility than his opponents, for sure.

     

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    Zangetsu (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    What happened?

    So, how did the U.S. go from "Leader of the Free World" to the "Lance Armstrong of the Free World". I have seen pariahs with better press than the U.S. at the moment. By the way, does a candidate for U.S. President (or any other political office) need to be inside the country on election day or can they be in, say, Russia?

     

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    DerpltonBanks, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    I got bit

    by the lavabit shutdown. I had paid for 2 years, but only got about 8-9 months of use. I'm not mad about the money (it was cheap), but I am mad that I have to find a new home.

    Luckly I used my domain to forward to my lavabit address, so I can just redirect to a new address.

    I looked at a few but they are tons more expensive than lavabit was.

    Been looking at posteo.de but I need to brush up on my German some more. MyKolab is crazy expensive to start up.

    I've ran my own before but it really is a pita to keep running, and using a residental ISP makes it even harder.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

      Re: I got bit

      Once again, I recommend looking into Runbox.

      Basically, I would choose an email provider that has been around for a long enough time to where chances of them shutting down one night without warning are slim. I don't trust the new providers that have popped up which are specifically about anti-prism, pro-freedom. Because they haven't been around long enough to prove if they are actually going to be reliable and stick to their word. Which is one of the reasons I admired Lavabit. They stuck to their word to the very end.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    Balls the size of church bells

    He has 'em. He's going to need them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

    Well shit, my Amazon account was linked to a lavabit account

    I wish I was giving some prior warning.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      ..But then again, Prior warning would kind of defeat the point

      I still stand by Lavabit, I wish every company would just shut their doors and say "piss off" for even a week or so to let the Government know that they don't control them.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Microsoft got out of antitrust suits by agreeing to bend over and take it on demand. Apple will soon do the same. As will Google eventually. By allowing corporations to become so large, we make them pawns of the government. OOTB isn't that far out there when he rants about Google. He just views them as being the evil, when in fact, the larger they grow, the more they have to lose and thus the easier it is for the government to get them to do their bidding.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:05pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OOTB isn't that far out there when he rants about Google


          That's the funny thing -- (almost?) nobody here thinks he's wrong in his fundamental point. He's just offtopic and spammy about it, and erroneously equates what the government is doing with what Google is doing.

           

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            Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            " and erroneously equates what the government is doing with what Google is doing."

            Yes...that is the spammy part...but It is quite interesting to debate with him when he doesn't spam about it. Outside of spam he can be downright reasonable at times.

             

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      fb39ca4 (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:29pm

      Re:

      Does Amazon have plans in place when stuff like this happens?

       

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    Anonymous, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    While they're shut down, they should just securely wipe everything out.

     

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    Uriel-238 (away from account), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    This man is my god.

    We have come to a point where it is loyalty to resist, and treason to submit.

    oh, and...

    The Senator [Stephen Decatur] from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, "My country, right or wrong." In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.

    Carl Schurz

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    I want an encryption program that pads every byte of data with the rick roll video. If the government is going to scoop it all up, lets make sure they have to have big scoops!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Remember, Obama says we don't have a spy program.

    RIGHT

     

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    Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Time to Laugh

    I am slightly reminded of this scene between Colonel Von Schultz and the POW's ion this lovely scene from Stalag 17


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEi5PAFkiNI

    We the people are the POW's.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Well, Fuck!

    I had a Lavabit pay account. Got no notice of the shutdown until I saw a link on Reddit.

    Now all my emails are getting bounced from my lavabit address, and I have to find a new provider.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

    this is getting totally ridiculous! it shows how guilty the government and their agencies are and how scared they are of even more shit hitting fan, as i am sure there will be. it makes a terrorist attack seem the lesser, perhaps, of two evils!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 12:42am

      Re:

      There's no such thing as a "terrorist attack."

      Terrorism: Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.

      The United States government is by far the largest and most well-resourced terrorist organization in the world. And I'm pretty damn tired of shit like the OP happening because they can't stop peen-waving.

       

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    Bill Smith, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    Lavabit Server Shutdown

    I have been a user of the Lavabit service since nearly it's inception. Yesterday there was a system maintenance message on their website. I had checked as I was unable to get my emails. Today I get the notice that you have posted. Has the government gotten this intrusive? Apparently so! I am sickened and appalled by this and seriously thinking of going permanently offline. How many of us ex-servicemen fought to protect this country and the constitution and now this? We need to wake up and WAKE UP NOW to fight this totalitarian government!! I for one am NOT willing to give up any of my freedoms for a bit of security! And I will defend this with all remedies available to me under the constitution. I hope people start waking up VERY SOON!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    And for funding they are using Paypal which stole from Wikileaks...

     

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    not over 300,000, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    "@ioerror Lavabit's stats page showed they had about 410,000 accounts at the time of the shutdown."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    I think leaders got confused...

    China is now the old USA and the USA is now old China.

     

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    Wolfy, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 6:04pm

    All of you mook should do what I just did. Cut loose some cheese for the Good Guyz.

     

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    BS Simon (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

    So, there is a gag.....

    So, there is a gag order and the company has issued a statement and ceased operations. Am I just paranoid or does this end with the government having the argument that the company violated the gag order? Granted, that would take a special level of cluelessness in regards to keeping a secret, but with the way they have been acting recently it might sound reasonable to them.

     

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      Wally (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 7:04pm

      Re: So, there is a gag.....

      BS Simon I couldn't agree more to your statement. The beauty in all this is that there is going to be a huge bubble that bursts. It's going to cause change alright....just not the way the Obama Administration will be expecting it to.

      On a side note....true reform never comes from those who campaign on a promise...it only comes when that promise is your only camping. You cannot make a promise without a clear idea of your core principles and I think that's exactly what the Obama Administration sorely lacked. Never vote on a person with extreme charisma who is promising total sweeping change and reform...Humanity learned that the hard way with Hitler.

       

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        Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 11:44am

        Hitler Delivers!

        Never vote on a person with extreme charisma who is promising total sweeping change and reform...Humanity learned that the hard way with Hitler.

        The difference is that Hitler delivered in exactly the way he promised. Obama went in on a bringing-American-freedoms-back campaign and then... evolved, I guess.

         

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    Marco, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    News like these...

    Makes me sad about the fight of his life this dude has to pull up on his own, to defend what most of us want. My respects to him.

    I also think sooner or later they will freeze his Paypal funds as well.

    The Yanks are absolutely terrible at this.

    One one side, they preach freedoms and on the other...well, this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 12:47am

    Does anyone know of email services which I can use for free that are run by people that have even an ounce of the dedication to principle that this guy had?

     

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    Dave St. Hubbins, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 1:06am

    RE: HAMERICA

    Thank you very much "Ham"erican government for f****g up my email which I relied on to keep in touch with friends, family and to conduct my lawful business.

    All that you have done is graphically highlight what a bunch of self serving, hypocritical, neurotic, psychopathical, bunch of suckling pigs you really are.

    Time to find an European home for my email and boycott all US products and services for the forseeable future....

     

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    emelio lizaardo, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 2:15am

    Win win

    The government wins if it gets the information and it wins by shutting down the service.

    What a wonderful precedence we set for more authoritarian regimes to control people.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Ninja (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 3:49am

      Re: Win win

      Really? How much of an impact it will have against the Government? And you can still use any regular mail service by adding end-to-end private encryption. Authoritarian Governments already know the Internet is a powerful channel for dissent. They'll cut it off if needed. It's the Western Governments that are learning well from the authoritarian ones.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 4:35am

        Re: Re: Win win

        nd you can still use any regular mail service by adding end-to-end private encryption.

        Chicken or the egg problem. You’re gonna need most of the folks with whom you correspond also using the same encryption method. That has always been the problem with encrypted mail.

        I’m hoping current events will make that easier. But I don’t know what it will take to hit critical mass.

         

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        •  
          icon
          Ninja (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 5:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Win win

          I know. But if you are actively working against an authoritarian Government you will manage to have all or most of your contacts use it, no?

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 11:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Win win

            Most of my contacts are not actively working against an authortarian government. Hell, I’m not even actively working against any such government, beyond voting and petitions, and contributions anyway.

            But I would still prefer my government keep their eyes off my regular emails to my non-tech-savvy mother who wouldn’t necessarily think the encryption was worth it.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    Theo Deville, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 2:19am

    Alt email

    Runbox.com (Norwegian)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Clownius, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 2:50am

    God Help us all

    It was good to see principle enacted. With any luck the servers have either cooked the data or are heavily encrypted by now. Nothing left the NSA can reasonably use.

    Sometimes you HAVE to take a stand and do the lesser of two evils and if the other evil was handing over even one bit of data this was the lesser evil.

    I worry about Paypal donations. Paypal will freeze that account the second any meaningful amount of money collects. If your not a US government puppet Paypal will be more than happy to seize your money. Look and look fast at other donation gathering methods. Bitcoin is one obviously but you may be able to get an EU payment processor on board at least for a while.

    As for anyone doing IT business in the USA or UK its time to start moving things to a safe country now. If you stay your doing a major disservice to yourself and your customers. Its sad but the supposed land of the free is the last place you want to be.

    I wont get into the US constitution and stuff. Im not a Citizen. But it appears that its just a rag now. It has no relevance since the Wikileaks saga. Its getting worse not better every time the Government overreaches. The thing that scares me most these days isnt China or North Korea or some other Axis of Evil country. Its the god damned United States of America that frightens me most as a Freedom loving Australian Citizen.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Shane, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 3:24am

    Then why so proud???

    This things usually happen in the country like china or iran. But united states of america!! are they still proud about the "freedom of speech " and "democracy" and the other s*** which they think they have in usa?? Things are getting worse in usa. Anyway my emails are all lost. Now Im waiting for the startmail to release.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    arl, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    lavabit to Finland?

    I could have set the system up after getting disks ..

    There's no NSA in Finland _and_ email and written letters
    have extremely strong protection by law.

    //arl

     

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  •  
    identicon
    me, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    shame on america

    F***in america with all the f***in fight against terrorist ghosts. WTF about rest of us who are not americans? Why do we have to suffer?
    PS: hopefully they won't track my ip otherwise they will sent them 'muricans hillbilly from marines to bring "DEMOCRATHAA" to my country as well.
    :)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rolf, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 3:06am

    The forth reich

    I am old enough to have experiences from the Third Reich, I promise you, this is the Fourth Reich, almost an exact repeat. We failed to stop the Third Reich, we know the consequences, I hope we don't fail to stop the repeat.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:31pm

      Re: The forth reich

      I assure you we've long since convinced ourselves that it couldn't happen here. but then Israel doesn't see similarities when its own policies are juxtaposed to those of the Reich. We've even forgotten the warnings of our constitutional framers who understood regulatory capture before they had a name for it.

      Maybe this time, after a good and bloody civil war, after another holocaust, those who survive will understand that it can happen anywhere.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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