Another Secure Email Service Shuts Down To Avoid Having To Do So Later

from the us-government-destroying-american-businesses dept

When Lavabit announced its sudden decision to shut down yesterday, many of its customers were actually fairly perturbed that they were given no notice, and no way to retrieve their mail before it went away. While I can certainly understand that emotional response to losing your email account like that, it seems rather obvious that there was no real choice here. If Lavabit had alerted customers that they had a day or a week or whatever before the service shut down, it seems quite likely from the hints given that the government would have stepped in with an order to preserve the information it was clearly seeking access to.

Given that, it's noteworthy that another secure email provider, Silent Circle, chose to announce its own plans to close down its secure email service hours later. Silent Circle isn't facing the same hidden court orders/government demands, but it recognized that it would likely come some day soon -- and thus it was better to shut down ahead of time, before the government forced it to make the same decision. I'm somewhat surprised that Silent Circle didn't at least give its customers a day or whatever to close out their email, but rather the company flat out destroyed its servers, noting:
"Gone. Can't get it back. Nobody can."
The company is still offering other secure tools that feature end-to-end encryption such that there's nothing they can hand over to the government.

In discussing this, I saw some people point out that another service, CryptoCloud, has actually had it as a part of its privacy policy for over five years that it would shut down rather than let the government get direct access to accounts:
If a court orders us to allow them to secretly place surveillance "sniffers" on a specific account, we will fight this order to the highest judicial authority possible. If we lose, we will shut down the business and call it a day. End of story.
Still, this kind of thing is showing how these ridiculous surveillance policies from the US government are doing massive harm to US businesses, basically making them either lie to their customers and violate their privacy, or to shut down completely. It's going to drive many, many users to overseas services. Is that really worth it?

Filed Under: email, secure email, shutting down, surveillance
Companies: lavabit, silent circle

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  1. identicon
    Collaborative United, 30 Dec 2013 @ 4:30am

    Some Freelance/Firm Idea's Guru Will Think a Loop-Hole

    I'm sure it won't take long for some developer to think of a way to encrypt emails without actually being vulnerable to the U.S Laws, can they ask for Registration Info Based in China or Russia for eg? Where there is a will there is a way. Just because the U.S Govt. can't read the eMails they shut down these sites = MAKES ME SICK as it shows just shows just what they are reading on GMAIL, YAHOO MAIL, ISP EMAILS ETC using PRISM and other Keyword Sniffers and talking about a "Bomb ass concert where the band's song 'Terror In The U,S,A' really rallied the fans" - for an example of some common kid's email, IM, FaceBook IM to his mates.... S-C-A-R-Y

    I've nothing to hide, but I Encrypt everything... Why? I HAVE A RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN MY OWN HOME, if that home is online or not... simple/ PLUS I'm Not a U.S Citizen and dread what u guys are going through, especially Police States etc in the next few years, and total satellite lookouts in the next few years on U.S within just 'above' head distance... OUCH. AND WHY? TO SHOW THEY CAN.

    WAR ON TERROR?? HMMM, Bit Old Mate. Ain't been a Legit Attack for over 10yrs... Staged & FOREIGN POWER STRUGGLES AGAINST THEIR OWN = Like ANY OTHER WAR EVER where we don't get involved, until Oil & Diamonds started running low that is.

    SORRY FOR THE RAMBLE and thanks 4 ur guys patience.

    I Design for United Worldwide Collaboration to do my part against the 'splitting' agenda...Well & to meet like minded individuals from all over, make life long friends and project partners, and of course increase our PORTFOLIO'S ;) @Code_Collective - Jay (2nd Project Manager)

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