Failures

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
ed snowden, failures, redaction

Companies:
lavabit



Apparent Redaction Failure Leads To Government Confirming Target Of Lavabit Investigation

from the SPOILER-ALERT? dept

The US government has just undercut one of its own gag orders. It imposed one on Lavabit after demanding its source code and encryption key. It has revealed the target of its demands from the encrypted email provider -- a person everyone already knew was the target, but one that wasn't likely to be officially confirmed for years to come. Kim Zetter at Wired has the details:

Ladar Levison, owner of the now defunct email service, has been forbidden since then, under threat of contempt and possibly jail time, from identifying who the government was investigating. In court documents from the case unsealed in late 2013, all information that could identify the customer was redacted.

But federal authorities recently screwed up and revealed the secret themselves when they published a cache of case documents but failed to redact one identifying piece of information about the target: his email address, Ed_Snowden@lavabit.com. With that, the very authorities holding the threat of jail time over Levison’s head if he said anything have confirmed what everyone had long ago presumed: that the target account was Snowden’s.
The unsealed documents were posted to PACER and picked up by Cryptome, which uploaded them yesterday. The inadvertent exposure is contained in the Appeal Cover Sheet, which was apparently left unredacted when the unsealed docs were uploaded to the court's electronic filing system.


Sometimes inadvertent transparency is the best transparency. Despite this being made public (most likely accidentally), it still doesn't change the stipulations of the gag order.
When asked for comment, Levison’s lawyer Jesse Binnall told WIRED in a email that “due to the letter and spirit of the court’s January 7, 2016 order, Lavabit has no further comment on the unredacted email address.”
Yes, a gag order can still be violated even though anyone who's paying attention has known for nearly two years now that the target was Edward Snowden. Unless the government meant to release this document in unredacted form, Ladar Levinson and his lawyers could still face contempt charges for even confirming what thousands of others can see with their own two eyes.


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  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 18 Mar 2016 @ 8:43am

    and we are supposed to trust the govt to NOT leak the FBI's backdoor when they can't even keep something THIS simple from escaping? REALLY?!?!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2016 @ 8:54am

    Govt employees can't

    look at Snowden dox or Wikileaks dox cuz they're shush secret.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2016 @ 8:56am

    this would be funny if it wasn't so sad, and it would be sad if it wasn't so funny.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 18 Mar 2016 @ 9:05am

    Save the planet

    Looks like they don't want to use a ton of back ink. Very planet friendly.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2016 @ 9:10am

    Fairness

    In the spirit of fairness, I think the court employee(s) who released the unredacted form ought to be held in contempt of their own court. It may not make sense, but it's only fair, in light of the ongoing gag order. Once the order is lifted, they can be released from contempt.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2016 @ 9:18am

    Ah-HA! Oh wait. This is not at all surprising.

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

  • identicon
    Jason, 18 Mar 2016 @ 9:28am

    Sadly, the only real result of this will likely be an even greater clampdown on FOIA responses.

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 18 Mar 2016 @ 10:19am

    Incompetence or Malice?

    Despite what Napoleon is alleged to have said... was this an accident? You have to wonder whether someone stuck in a golden-handcuff quagmire decided to stick it to their employer by "overlooking" a detail in the redaction?

    I recall when a child soldier arrested in Afghanistan, then help in Guantanamo for a decade, was being tried for allegedly fighting back in a fire-fight; the government side "inadvertently" released documents to the defense suggesting he was innocent, that someone else could have tossed the grenade.

    Just because some higher-ups have it in for the constitution doesn't mean everyone else goes along willingly.

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

  • icon
    steell (profile), 18 Mar 2016 @ 11:17am

    Ah yes, "The most transparent Administration in history".

    Freedom, we barely knew you.

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 18 Mar 2016 @ 10:23pm

    Motion to rescind gag order?

    Now that the identity of the target of the investigation has been released into the wild, I wonder if Mr Levison's attorney can file a motion with the court to rescind the gag order?

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

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 19 Mar 2016 @ 11:27am

    Stay on your toes 'cuz they're just aching to make you pay!

    "... [gag] order can still be violated even though anyone who's paying attention has known for nearly two years now that the target was Edward Snowden. Unless the government meant to release this document in unredacted form, Ladar Levinson and his lawyers could still face contempt charges for even confirming..."

    Come hell or high water, someone's going to pay for the Government fucking up all the time.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 6:44am

    Meh. I was sure it was all about Alan Cooper and that Carreon would show in the end.

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


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