Lavabit's Levison Now Avoids Email Altogether, Has Turned Into A 'Political Activist' Thanks To The NSA
from the unintended-effects dept
Reporting on comments he made recently at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference in Seattle, AllThingsD has a useful update on what he's doing currently. He says that he is still hopeful that the courts will allow him to re-start Lavabit; but until then, he is taking some rather extreme precautionary measures, avoiding email altogether:
Levison is making use of "the electronic equivalent of a methadone clinic" by messaging people through Facebook, LinkedIn, text and the new encrypted communication service Silent Circle. "I haven't needed a real and valid email address to register for something yet," he said.
It's a little hard to reconcile that understandable concern that the NSA may be eavesdropping with his use of relative insecure services like Facebook, but presumably he knows what he is doing here. Maybe he only conducts relatively trivial conversations using them, saving more serious stuff for Silent Circle, and the really serious stuff for face-to-face meetings.
"Anything that I consider sensitive, I try to talk about it to people in person, with my cellphone off, in an area where I know that nobody’s pointing a parabolic mic at me," Levison said. "If you're fighting the government that's what you need to do."
Levison's thoughts on communications and security are obviously of interest, but the key news that we learn from the AllThingsD piece is the following:
"I've had to switch from becoming a small business owner worrying about making payroll, to overnight becoming a political activist," Levison said.
The following hint of something big to come is intriguing:
Though he had suggested when he shut down Lavabit that he was at imminent risk of arrest, Levison said today he is "less worried" about that now. "What I'm more worried about is what I have planned for the future," he added ominously, then declined to elaborate.
What's significant is that the NSA's attempts to bully Levison into secret obedience have backfired badly, producing the opposite effect: in his own words, he's become a "political activist" -- one, moreover, who is technically savvy and has experience of dealing with the snoops. That makes him a hugely valuable ally for those wishing to bring some transparency and accountability to the US government's surveillance activities -- and an obvious problem for the NSA. No wonder he's worried about being spied upon.