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Encrypted Email Provider Lavabit Shuts Down, Blames US Gov't 771

Posted by timothy
from the land-of-the-free dept.
clorkster writes to note the following explanation posted to the front page of encrypted email provider Lavabit: "'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.' No doubt this has much to do with Snowden's use of the provider."
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Encrypted Email Provider Lavabit Shuts Down, Blames US Gov't

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  • OK. (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainStumpy (1132145) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:22PM (#44513447)
    So it has come to this.
    • Re:OK. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:00PM (#44513947) Journal

      So it has come to this.

      Well if your clients are customers who use your service because it wont be snopped I would say you are screwed!

      American cloud companies are now suffering. [arstechnica.com] I put this link as a story, and I am surprised the slashdot editors didn't accept this.

      60% of all European companies are canceling their cloud contracts or are revising them due to security concerns!

      Canada's health ministry is quotes in that article's comments on already cancelling as there is no confidentiality thanks to the NSA's prism program.

      So my hunch is it is not his overeaction, but all his customers leaving for European or Canadian encrypted email cloud providers instead.

      • Re:OK. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lanforod (1344011) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:44PM (#44514513)
        RTFA you posted. Your statement is wrong. Canadian government organizations, including health care, are not allowed to store any data outside of Canada. It isn't that the health ministry (actually a health organization as per the article) cancelled a service to a US based cloud service, it's that they would never use one, or even consider using one.
      • Re:OK. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by snadrus (930168) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:50PM (#44515311) Homepage Journal

        The cloud movement could have been the next great economic success (mostly in the US), but instead the entire economic opportunity is being shut-down by the very government that it would most benefit.

        • Re:OK. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic.gmail@com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:48PM (#44516281)

          I've never been convinced that the cloud was a good place to store stuff - even without the US (or any) government involved. In general, 'midnight auto supply and cloud services inc.' just seems like a really unreliable and unsafe place to put the business jewels, so to speak. It's hard enough to manage security for one's own hardware and software, but trusting an anonymous entity with unknown employees and who-knows-what kind of locks and security arrangements means that if a break-in occurs you are never even likely to know about it, much less have anything you can do about it.

          Protip - a few years ago I was talking to the then-head of the Navy's then-nascent cybersecurity team (soon to become one or two battalions). He said that their red-team tests showed that the average cost to buy your way into a Fortune 500 company's data center was $7500. If nothing else, Snowden showed that it may cost nothing at all.

          And that's not even to mention the potential penetrations at every ISP on the way to and from the cloud provider.

          (Snowden seems to me somewhat equivalent to the 'Falcon' in "The Falcon and the Snowman", with updated technology. In 1975, the Falcon [wikipedia.org] became concerned about what he saw coming across the teletype at TRW, and one thing led to another. He got out of prison (after 24 years of a 40 year sentence) a few years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:24PM (#44513463)

    Where at least I know I'm free!

  • Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:24PM (#44513469)

    I applaud him for taking a stance against the snooping. Unfortune that he had to shut the service down though. Maybe he can move it offshore.

    • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frobnicator (565869) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:44PM (#44513715) Journal

      Maybe he can move it offshore.

      It is probably too late. The demand has already been issued.

      He cannot destroy anything, it has already been demanded by the feds and destroying it after it is requested will land him in jail.

      He cannot legally take it out of the country due to ITAR.

      The best he can do if he (as the business) attempt to fight it is to surrender the servers to a court-certified secure escrow company; they will make duplicates of every disk and hold both the originals and copies in limbo. If the government takes a copy while it is still in secure escrow then they run afoul of the courts, not like that worries most of them as there are many ways around it like writing a generic statement that it is urgent for undisclosed national security purposes.

      Just a hunch, but I'm guessing the soul searching was if he should take everything to an incineration company and burn it to white ash, potentially facing prison terms for doing so. Unless that happens, everything on the machine is still vulnerable to the $5 wrench attack.

      • Re:Applause (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:13PM (#44514107) Journal

        The core problem is that Lavabit got their security model wrong. With their scheme, the encrypted private key is stored on their servers, which means that the government need only demand that the unencrypted password for a user be logged somewhere whenever that user logs in, and then the government has access to all emails, past and present.

        Such a model is not significantly more secure than an unencrypted mail provider, because anyone capable of compromising the machine can capture that passphrase, and then the entire security model comes down like a house of cards. The only situation in which your data is more secure with such weak encryption is if you happen to not log in to the account while the server is compromised. Therefore, the only way to protect the users' data is to shut down the servers so that they cannot log in.

        Had they used a more paranoid security model—a proper client-side app to generate and store the keys and perform all decryption—then the private key would be stored on the user's machine, and would never be seen by the server. In that case, the only thing the government could do would be to demand that new messages to a particular user be stored off to the side in the clear, and it would not be possible to gain access to any existing messages.

        • Re:Applause (Score:5, Interesting)

          by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:37PM (#44514425) Homepage Journal

          While what you say is true, it misses the most important point, which is that Mr. Levison is not even allowed to tell us why he has to shut down. The problem isn't surveillance, the problem is secrecy about surveillance that prevents it from being properly discussed and evaluated.

        • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:02PM (#44514741)

          This, I think, leads us to an hypothesis about what happened. Let's say he got a secret FISA order for a customer's (guess who) email. He replies and says
          sorry I cannot decrypt this without the passphrase. So the spooks say, "install a logger on your service for the next time he logs in, and that's
          an order." The nasty bit about FISA orders is you can't talk about them. He can't refuse the order, but they can't stop him from terminating the
          service, and thereby making the order moot. A beautiful gesture.

          • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @07:12PM (#44515503) Journal

            That was my immediate conclusion upon reading how the service worked. (Thanks, Google cache.) I mean, it's possible that it was something else, but that's by far the most obvious method of attack. The second method of attack would involve forcing him to turn over his SSL keys, which would have exactly the same effect, but more broadly (because everybody's passwords would get caught up in the honeypot). Either way, it's probably safe to say that in one way or another, the order demanded access to the password stream on the way in.

            That said, it's also possible that they demanded metadata logs of sent and received messages (from, to, sending hostname and IP, etc.) going forward, which would also be something that could be made moot by shutting the service down.

    • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:46PM (#44513749)
      Unfortunately we don't know if it was legal snooping with a warrant, or illegal without. We do know that Ladar's rights have been seriously infringed in not being allowed to talk about the situation, so people are very right to be outraged.
      • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:09PM (#44514051) Journal

        What good is outrage when it's not converted in to action, starting with voting for non-aligned candidates? On every election day all this 'outrage' will magically disappear. In fact, statistically speaking it never was bigger than a speck of dust. All the voters turn into zombies, doing what the TV tells them to do. This is a dead issue and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

      • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:10PM (#44514061) Journal
        All of which is fundamentally illegal. THe longer we allow these activities under the FALSE color of law, the longer we will suffer the consequences.
      • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:31PM (#44514375) Homepage

        The thing is, this is exactly the sort of thing free speech is supposed to be for. He's forced to violate his conscience or shut his business down and he cannot even expose the situation to sunlight. perhaps he can tell someone in the next cell about it using prisoner's raps.

        No speech could be more political than talking about exactly what your government is doing to you and what excuses it gives.

  • Context (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:25PM (#44513477)

    So when Obama boycotts a meeting with the Russians due to concerns over "human rights", you may now know that this is a lie.

    • Re:Context (Score:5, Insightful)

      by obarthelemy (160321) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:37PM (#44513621)
      Actually, Obama is tired of Russia and China showing up the US about human rights :-p
      • Re:Context (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Entropius (188861) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:42PM (#44513687)

        Read the stuff coming out of Russia on gay rights. Russia is not showing the US up on human rights; they have simply taken an opportunity to embarrass us on our own human rights failures, not because they disapprove of skulduggery, but because they disapprove of us. This is like a crack dealer turning in the mayor for smoking crack (hey, I live in DC, it's the first metaphor that came to mind).

        • Re:Context (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:49PM (#44513789)
          Correct. It was bizarre that Snowden ran to countries that are much worse on civil rights, but just want to make the U.S. look bad. The "America, Fuck No!" crowd is just as bad as the "America, Fuck Yeah!" crowd that told us we were traitors for opposing the Iraq war.
          • Re:Context (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Threni (635302) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:51PM (#44513815)

            > just want to make the U.S. look bad.

            No, all the other countries - the ones who are publicly condemning the US but secretly working with them and/or sharing their information - are too scared of the US to let him in.

          • Re:Context (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:57PM (#44513893)

            Bizarre?

            Regardless of your opinion an Snowden or any related matters, his actions do not seem bizarre as long as you properly weight his motives. I don't think he was trying to force a comparison between the US and other countries.

            I would suggest his primary concern was to avoid extradition - you know... as in what most people are hoping for when they seek asylum for any odd reason. Given the far reach of the US in today's world, his choices were/are rather limited.

          • Re:Context (Score:5, Insightful)

            by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:02PM (#44513973)
            Not so bizarre. He ran to countries big enough to tell the US to fuck off. Putin is absolutely overjoyed at being able to stick it to the US in a way that is basically meaningless but just makes them look bad.
          • Re:Context (Score:5, Insightful)

            by RandomFactor (22447) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:16PM (#44514153)

            It was bizarre that Snowden ran to countries that are much worse on civil rights, but just want to make the U.S. look bad.

            Snowden ran to countries that wouldn't put him in jail. I suspect their civil rights records were a much lower weighted factor.

  • Freedom (Score:5, Funny)

    by intermodal (534361) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:28PM (#44513509) Homepage Journal

    Anyone know a good freedom dealer? I'm an addict and need my fix of freedom, but I can't seem to find it within the borders of the US at this point.

    • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by istartedi (132515) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:37PM (#44513623) Journal

      Anyone know a good freedom dealer? I'm an addict and need my fix of freedom, but I can't seem to find it within the borders of the US at this point.

      I never saw freedom sold on the street.
      We always had to grow our own.
      Then we'd take it from our garden on a bus.
      They'd tell us we had to sit in back.
      When we got there they said we couldn't dance.
      Yet somehow that light still shown.
      We grew our own.

  • First Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:35PM (#44513591) Homepage

    In my mind, disallowing people from criticizing government actions and government policy is a serious violation of the First Amendment. It is exactly what the First Amendment was written to prevent. I hope someone will challenge this issue in court.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:35PM (#44513593) Journal

    I am surprised the government let him shut down. That action alone probably violated the gag order.

  • by RatBastard (949) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:35PM (#44513599) Homepage

    That system go shut down by the Church of Scientology. The powers that be fear a populous they can not spy on.

  • Legally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:36PM (#44513605) Journal

    The operator of Lavabit CAN legally discuss what is happening. He cannot *safely* do so, because our government does not obey the law, and will punish him for exercising his first amendment rights.

    • Re:Legally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PRMan (959735) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:25PM (#44515029)
      The difference is whether he wants to take it to the Supreme Court from outside or inside a prison cell.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:36PM (#44513607) Homepage

    Clearly the operator of Lavabit received a national security letter or warrant which he objected to.

    Now since Lavabit is based on normal mail protocols, the operator has the ability to see all the data when it comes in, and obviously with a warrant or NSL, the provider can be compelled to provide the information to the feds. But I suspect that the request was not just something mild ("This sleazebag's mail account") but something broader, given the reaction was to close down the service completely.

    In any case, this is also a great reminder of why the cloud, especially US cloud providers, can't be trusted. Companies who care about security are going to have to abandon the cloud and go back to insourcing their infrastructure.

    • by Havokmon (89874) <rick.havokmon@com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:53PM (#44513841) Homepage Journal

      Now since Lavabit is based on normal mail protocols, the operator has the ability to see all the data when it comes in, and obviously with a warrant or NSL, the provider can be compelled to provide the information to the feds. But I suspect that the request was not just something mild ("This sleazebag's mail account") but something broader, given the reaction was to close down the service completely.

      I own/operate VFEmail.net and consider Lavabit a 'peer' in the email space.

      I totally agree with your assessment. I've had to deal with requests and subpoenas, as I'm sure Lavabit has, and I've never been asked for broad access. In fact, the one time I did have to get 'in depth', I was specifically told by the agent in charge when everything initiated, "We are not installing any equipment at your site." In fact, he even offered to get me whatever I needed, and I declined, doing what was necessary to comply in-house. They only received what was requested on a signed subpoena, and were very clear they didn't even WANT anything else.

      I have a sinking feeling that sort of mutual cooperation is no longer the norm, and I wonder if I will be similarly backed into a corner. Unfortunately by closing, it forces our user's to seek refuge with providers who don't have any problem installing spy equipment.

    • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:27PM (#44514303)

      The answer is to turn the tables on them, "flip the script", as it were.

      Set up rotating surveillance teams at NSA, DHS, CIA, TSA, and FISA facilities. If one person/group is caught recording video, etc have another person/team standing by to take their place when theyâ(TM)re ordered to move on. Create and build up lists of personnel and dossiers on those seen coming & going.

      Track them to where they live. Note who they associate with and who their family members are and gather intelligence on them as well. Record addresses, vehicle make/model/year and license plate number(s), etc. Correlate against public information and databases, DMV/court records, property records, tax and political contribution records, etc etc.

      Create a website to host and share this data publicly, and host it somewhere like Ecuador or Hong Kong that will tell the US government to go pound sand.

      Put THEM and their activities, travel, and associations in the spotlight for a change. Cockroaches and similar vermin hate bright light.

      It seems that the US government has chosen to fight terrorism not by addressing the root causes and the people actually at fault, but by simply becoming the biggest terrorists of them all and driving out the competition.

      The US government is far and away a much larger threat, by orders of magnitude, to the citizens of the US (and the rest of the world as well) than all the terrorist groups, foreign & domestic, combined.

      Strat

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:39PM (#44513651) Homepage Journal

    Why isn't the entire Republican party standing up for this provider, telling government to get out of the way of business? He built that! Now, if he's been a multi-trillion dollar bank, the government would leave him alone, hell, he'd be telling the government what to do.

    This is just another example of "might makes right, we're a bully, and we're going to push the world around, usa #1 F-yeah!"

    We are living in a police state; there's no doubt about that at this point.

  • Bull-Fucking-Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:42PM (#44513689) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Congress does not have the authority to violate the Constitution. They can "pass" all the bullshit "laws" they want, but the fact remains that there is not a soul in the federal government who has the power to supersede our Constitutional Liberties. The only, ONLY legitimate way to alter the content of said document would be via a Constitutional Amendment approved by 2/3 of all state legislatures, or by the formation of a Constitutional Congress. Neither of these events have occurred, therefore your right to tell us that the NSA is trying to force you to turn over your encryption keys stands firm. Fuck you Stasi dogfuckers ('cuz I know you're skimming this).

    FYI, by making such a statement, and doing as they tell you, you're only helping them perpetuate the myth that they can do this kind of shit and get away with it.

  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:51PM (#44513819)
    "Lavabit - an encrypted email service which is used by pedophiles and terrorist networks - was shut down after refusing to give the government access to important data that could have lead to arrests."
  • by SailorSpork (1080153) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:52PM (#44513835) Homepage
    Also from the front page:

    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

    Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

    He leaves a link to donote to their legal defense fund. In other words, he's still fighting it, but in secret shadow court.

  • by boorack (1345877) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:01PM (#44513965)

    So, instead of fixing its behavior (or at least make it a bit less visible), US government (and its corporate sponsors) decided to go out and spy+opress its citizens officially. You're at the tipping point, folks. Your lovely government is now switching from covert police state to overt tyranical regime. This process will propably take another year or two until you'll get pretty much where nazi Germany was in 1939. Your favorite TV station will inform you every day how many "enemies of America" were caught/jailed/murdered this week and you'll fear every day if FBI squad will raid your house because of some phony suspicion.

    Having said that, I'd recommend Americans, especially young ones to have second passport and be ready to leave this shithole when things go full retard (eg. your fucked up government starts some mega-war and will need as much cannon fodder as possible).

  • by multi io (640409) <olaf.klischat@googlemail.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:12PM (#44514851)
    I always assume email encryption only makes sense if it's end-to-end, so what does an "encrypted email provider" do? Conceal sender & receiver addresses? Guarantee encrypted transport?
  • Concrete reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Jesus (962106) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:51PM (#44515323)

    My name is Anthony Coulter. I signed up for Lavabit on October 5, 2009 with the address anthonycoulter(at)lavabit.com. I chose Lavabit very consciously. My university email address was about to expire and I had concerns about Google's privacy policies. Lavabit was created specifically for privacy-conscious people. They offered server-side encryption to paying customers; when I became a paying customer a year or two later I decided to check that box because, hell, why not?

    [Note that I never did ask how server-side encryption worked. They said that things were rigged up so that they could not decrypt my on-server email even if they were coerced into it. My guess was that they used a hash of your login password to decrypt your email. I didn't know whether it was true or not, but I didn't think it really mattered. Apparently it did matter.]

    I use my Lavabit account for everything. My bank statements are mailed to it. Most of my internet login IDs created since 2009 depend on it. All of my friends use it. And now it's gone.

    I last checked my email around 9pm on Tuesday, August 6. When I woke up the next morning my connection attempts to the Lavabit server timed out. That was inconvenient; I had to send some information to my parents about an upcoming family reunion, so I sent them a text message promising to email it to them when the service was restored Wednesday night. It wasn't; I finally sent the email from an old family account I used back in the late 1990s. When I woke up *this* morning and Lavabit was still down, I did a couple of Google searches to see if anyone else noticed that an email provider had been gone for twenty-four straight hours. I found this [emaildiscussions.com] discussion, which I quote for the benefit of people who will read this post long after the forum has ceased to exist:

    RobertPaulsen
    Junior Member
    Join Date: Aug 2013
    has anybody considered that if edward snowden did use lavabit then the Gouvernment is maybe interested in his mails which he wrote and sended to Glenn Greenwald. Maybe they seized the server and waved with a national security letter. just a thought !

    This was posted at 10:55pm last night; when I saw it this morning I instantly dismissed the poster as a childish Internet revolutionary. The idea that the Federal government would clog up Lavabit for an entire day and a half just to get at Snowden is silly! They can't disrupt business like that!

    Then I ran another Google search for "lavabit down" before getting off work today, and... here we are. Emails sent to my lavabit account still don't get bounce warnings, so noone who's emailed me since 9pm on Tuesday will know that I didn't get their email, or that I never will. I also have to go through the long and tedious process of reassociating all of my Internet accounts with a new email address. But which provider will I choose? I still don't trust Google. I don't know what I'll do yet; it was only two hours ago when discovered that my four-year-old email address had been taken down by the Federal government.

    I just donated two thousand dollars to Lavabit's legal defense fund. (The confirmation email from Paypal just arrived in my old Cox account.) I cannot prove this to the Internet, and it's debatably silly for someone so privacy-conscious to want to do so. But at some point we will have to take this issue seriously. I watched the Snowden news from a distance; I didn't say or do anything about it because it wasn't really my problem. Now I lost my email, and if I had used IMAP this would have been a tragedy of enormous proportions.

    --Anthony Coulter, a.k.a. Red Jesus

    • by Red Jesus (962106) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:16PM (#44516485)

      I've been modded up, which is fantastic, but to be honest I was hoping to provoke discussion.

      What I was thinking when I wrote the above post (and was more sober) was that this issue is affecting regular people. I'm a real person! I live in an apartment in midtown Atlanta! I have a trilobite collection and I like to take long walks. I'm preparing dinner for some friends tomorrow evening. I'm a savvy Internet user, like the rest of you, who reflexively discounts conspiracy theories. But my email provider was just taken down because it provided too much privacy.

      Godwin's Law prevents me from typing many of my thoughts right now. I know from experience that everyone's weary from constant political combat. I was even in Washington D.C. (well, Richmond; the DC subways weren't working that day) for the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity, which emphasized the importance of getting along with your neighbors, even if they disagreed with your politics. And besides, I didn't do anything about the Snowden revelation, even though I consciously understood it was a Bad Thing.

      But here I am today with no email because (we assume) the Federal government presented Ladar Levison with an ultimatum: either break his own security and tell nobody, or stop providing the service altogether. (Fortunately Levison did what I paid him to do: he stood up for my privacy and let Lavabit go down.) But we can't be sure that this is what transpired because of Levison has been under a gag order for six weeks. This is a terrifying concept.

      Has anyone on Slashdot watched Babylon 5? It had a long story arc in which the Earth government gradually became more and more repressive. There was an episode in the middle of Season 3 called "Severed Dreams" in which the Interstellar News Network (ISN) was forcibly brought offline by the military. Right before they went off the air, an anchor came onscreen, apologized for interrupting, reported that some colonies had declared independence and that the president didn't want that information let out, and that many things had been going on for a year that ISN was not allowed to report. Some explosions damaged the building, ISN went offline, and a week later, it came back with a new (completely unfamiliar) news anchor who calmly explained that terrorists had faked the previous broadcast.

      That's how I feel about Lavabit right now. I've been watching the Snowden news for months. Then my email went down... And then suddenly I'm hit with this speech that for the last six weeks, Lavabit's founder has been fighting to protect my privacy while under a gag order, and twice has tried to get that order lifted. But he failed and now I have to go change my email address everywhere it's used. Wow! I never imagined that the drama on the news, where the United States tried to promise Russia that we wouldn't torture one of our own citizens were he extradited, would have a direct impact on my insignificant life! But it did. And apparently Lavabit has been fighting for the last six weeks, while I've been going to work, trying to talk pretty girls into dinner, and going jogging around the neighborhood. This is real! These issues aren't going away. I ignored them and I lost my email account. What will I lose next?

      Please, Slashdot. Please, please, please take this seriously. This isn't just another petty Internet squabble. This is serious business. I got caught in the crossfire early because I cared enough about my privacy to use Lavabit. Other people got caught in it earlier---Manning and Snowden because they had both moral courage and access to incriminating information, and probably many other people of Pakistani descent because that's just how things go. I got caught in it today. When will the rest of you get caught? GMail users are safe from shutdowns because even in 2009 we knew that Google didn't care about your privacy, but I wouldn't be surprised that the stakes will continue to increase as time wears on.

      Maybe I deserve to be alone in this mess because I left Manning, Snowden, and probably untold others in the lurch when they needed support. Yes, I probably do...

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