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Inside the Decision To Shut Down Silent Mail 182

Posted by timothy
from the hush-now dept.
Trailrunner7 writes with this snippet from ThreatPost:: "Silent Circle's decision to shut down its Silent Mail email service may have come quickly yesterday, and the timing of the announcement admittedly was prompted by Lavabit's decision to suspend operations hours before. But the seeds for this decision may have been sown long before Edward Snowden, who reportedly used Lavabit as a secure email provider, was a household name and NSA warrants for customer data were known costs of doing business. ... 'When we saw the Lavabit announcement, the thing we were worrying about had happened, and it had happened to somebody else. It was very difficult to not think I'm next,' Callas said. 'I had been discussing with Phil [founder and PGP developer Phil Zimmerman] over dinner the night before, should we be doing this and what the timing should be. I was looking at it from point that I want to be a responsible service provider and not leave users in a lurch. [The Lavabit announcement] told me I have to start moving on it now.'"
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Inside the Decision To Shut Down Silent Mail

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  • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:19PM (#44538055)
    Too bad that all the other service providers don't look at it the same way as Zimmerman. They apparently see the NSA money as a profit center. Their customer's data is simply something to be monetized in any way possible. All those crap "privacy policy" documents they've mailed to us over the years aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Don't be surprised to see Google, Facebook, Amazon et al, plus all the cloud providers, start showing lowered revenue in the next few financial quarters. As always, consumers will vote with their wallets.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:37PM (#44538147)

      I don't think there is any money directly attached. It's more of a threatened 'if you don't comply we throw you and your employees in jail' thing. Not sure how that would work out in a real world courtroom (I'd like to assume it would make it to court including a jury), but the companies likely don't want to chance it. Can't say I blame them in this case- it's looking like McCarthyism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mcarthyism) all over again. Sorry for the rusty geek skills.

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:05PM (#44538307) Homepage Journal

        I don't think there is any money directly attached. It's more of a threatened 'if you don't comply we throw you and your employees in jail' thing. Not sure how that would work out in a real world courtroom (I'd like to assume it would make it to court including a jury), but the companies likely don't want to chance it. Can't say I blame them in this case- it's looking like McCarthyism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mcarthyism) all over again. Sorry for the rusty geek skills.

        sure there is money involved for the taps. it's not an extra tax. of course this applies only to the ~5 biggest service providers of nsa. and it's not a secret that telephone providers are not the one's footing the bill for phone taps.

        plus, what good is a jury consisting of people chosen by the court in secret who can only give a verdict that's secret and can't speak of it to anyone....

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          plus, what good is a jury consisting of people chosen by the court in secret who can only give a verdict that's secret and can't speak of it to anyone....

          And, if what's happened to the "Osama" Seal Team 6 and various other people who might be privy to high-profile operational information is any indication, they'd probably be Disappeared anyway, regardless of their alliances. Things are getting bad.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:21PM (#44538419) Homepage Journal

        It's more of a threatened 'if you don't comply we throw you and your employees in jail' thing.

        It's not the threat of jail, but the threat that things can start going wrong for any provider that does not play ball with the NSA.

        It's like the mafia thugs that come into the restaurant and sell the owner "insurance" because "a lot of bad things can happen, you know?"

        There is a very short window of opportunity to stop the Panopticon now. Unfortunately, the people in power have made it clear that nothing in the political process is going to stop them. The solutions, if they come, will be outside of the political process. They made it that way, so people who resist ubiquitous surveillance and surrender of privacy can be seen as "radicals" and "terrorists" and worse.

        There are some bad times coming, I fear.

        • by melikamp (631205)
          I am cautiously optimistic. They must have found (or created) a loophole in the law, so the chances of prosecuting anyone may be small. But if the legislators are willing (and they seem to be warming up to change), all this spying, secret laws, and secret courts can be made very explicitly illegal.
          • Don't Bogart that joint, my friend. You've had enough already.

          • by TWiTfan (2887093)

            But if the legislators are willing (and they seem to be warming up to change), all this spying, secret laws, and secret courts can be made very explicitly illegal.

            What good does it do to pass legislation against these laws when the CIA and NSA can just ignore them? They've already been ignoring laws and lying to Congress for years, what makes you think some new laws are going to stop them?

          • I am cautiously optimistic. They must have found (or created) a loophole in the law, so the chances of prosecuting anyone may be small. But if the legislators are willing (and they seem to be warming up to change), all this spying, secret laws, and secret courts can be made very explicitly illegal.

            Yes....
            Note that a number of network news folk were ignoring some of the TLA constitutional issues up to the point that it was obvious that they were targeted.

            The hacking of FOX computers when FOX was a historic defender of some of this nonsense put the writing on the wall for all the networks that could read and were interested in reporting news.

            The courts, congress, executive branch may be silent because of thick folders of transgressions that Hover would have coveted in his day.

            We have seen worth

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          That's why I moved out of the US. The bad times will not be uniform, and some places will be less hit than others. I'm expecting it soon. 5-10 years soon.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          This is far worse than the Panopticon. In the Panopticon you might be being watching at any time. In the UK/US are are being watched all the time, and being recorded all the time so that the authorities can go back and watch you in the past for at least two years.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:59PM (#44538583)

        I don't think there is any money directly attached.

        Qwest said no, and lost all their government contracts, followed by the CEO being arrested for having used said government contracts' value in financial reports.

    • I'd be cool with mass surveillance if

      1) a million people didn't have access

      2) individual reasonable suspiction was required to use it and

      3) it was only for for terrorism cases

      And no bullsh*t interpretations of the above rules.

      • I'd be cool with mass surveillance if

        Why would you ever be "cool" with mass surveillance?

        • Why would you ever be "cool" with mass surveillance?

          Fear. At least Francis Scott Key's contemporaries knew that you can't have a free nation of cowards. That's a boolean AND, not an OR.

      • 1) Actually the number of people who have access to it is over a million, so this requirement is satisfied.
        2) EVERYBODY is a reasonable suspect, so this requirement is satisfied.
        3) Terrorism is defined by the law in such a way that hiding what you are doing is plausible grounds for suspicion of terrorism, so this requirement is satisfied.

        Aren't you glad you're cool with mass survielance.

        • by houghi (78078)

          Aren't you glad you're cool with mass survielance.

          Well, you must be. Otherwise you are a terrorist.

      • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:11PM (#44538355) Homepage Journal

        And no bullsh*t interpretations of the above rules.

        You mean like

        drugs==terrorism

        child sex abuse==terrorism

        child=<17 years old

        • How do you think tons of drugs from Mexico and Colombia get into the US every day?

          The Overlords want you to think that it is all due to corrupt policemen and politicians south of the border, but how does it get in and then gets distributed?

          Same answer, corrupt policemen and politicians. But they want the market for themselves, so yes, you try to do it on your own, you're a terrorist!

          • But spying on facebook chats will solve this!

            John Doe has invited you to Drug pickup September the 2nd 22:00

            John Doe 11:00
            Yo man! Those cocaine subs will arrive at (time & location) ... Please share and invite all your friends who may want to participate in the bidding process! Peace!

            Can't decide whatever to post as AC or aliquis. Score mod points and karma or forever be seen as a drug lord by the NSA.

            • by meza (414214)

              Can't decide whatever to post as AC or aliquis. Score mod points and karma or forever be seen as a drug lord by the NSA.

              The things you do for karma.

            • by Dekker3D (989692)

              They can see the message going from your pc to Slashdot. They'll know about your hypothetical drug-smuggling plans anyway. Isn't that lovely?

            • by houghi (78078)

              So you think posting as AC will make the NSA not know you posted it? You are so cute.

              Posting AC is security through obscurity.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:23AM (#44540469)

          Kiddie with a (semi)nude picture of itself on their own phone => kiddie-porn manufacturer

          Kiddie having received an above picture of same-agged other kiddie => pedofile

          A couple of kiddies having a relationship and the older one of them (even by couple of a months) becomes 18 => pedofile

          As a male taking a leak in the bushes and someone sees you => pedofile

          Drawing a nude kiddie on paper => kiddie-porn manufacturer

          And those are just the ones that went to court.

          Sorry, can't remember good generic examples about terrorism, save for that pretty much everything gets tagged with it

          Robbing a bank ? Terrorism

          Someone sees you when you show a gun to some friends ? Terrorism

          Taking pictures of a public object ? Terrorism

          Disagreeing with some "authority" which tries to tell you that that is illegal ? You're (must be) a terrorist.

          On other words: don't hold your breath. The ones with the authority probably have to much fun with having manufactured yet another reason to harras the common citizens and the citizenry is too eazy to scare (one way or the other) into cooperation.

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:13PM (#44538365) Journal
        1) How would you guard against that?
        2) If it's based on individual suspicion, it's not mass surveillance anymore. Or do you mean everything is recorded but only released if an individual case merits it? That is not unreasonable in principle, but there would have to be an ironclad mechanism for releasing these recordings in approved cases only.
        3) Maybe you also want to include kiddie porn. And drug trafficking. And seeding sedition. And copyright violations. And if you don't want to include any of that, there are plenty of legislators and voters who do want this. See how that works?

        I also think that there are cases where mass surveillance would be warranted. But in practice I think the downsides and dangers, not to mention any honest person's right to privacy, far outweigh the potential benefits. Even if those benefits include not having the occasional occupied building or train blow up. Freedom does come at a price
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:01PM (#44538277)

      There's negligible money in complying with these (illegal) 'requests' fro data. Why spread FUD? If you want to do something about it, fix the damn US government. Personally,I'm still surprised a few of those companies haven't moved to Canada.

      • Well that depends, right? It's reportedly $25 a request. Do you know how many requests they are making? That could add up to a lot of millions.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Well that depends, right? It's reportedly $25 a request. Do you know how many requests they are making? That could add up to a lot of millions.

          That really isn't where the profit is.

          The profit is in not being blacklisted from government work, being harassed by the FTC, not having your car randomly crash into a tree and explode into flames, et cetera.

      • @Nerdfest -

        Why spread FUD?

        Is it FUD if it is "certain" and "beyond doubt" that private companies are taking money from government agencies to help them scoop up your private communications?

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          You make it sound like they have a choice (other than leaving the country or shutting down).

          • @Nerdfest -

            You make it sound like they have a choice (other than leaving the country or shutting down).

            I don't know. I have a suspicion that some companies are quite happy to lend a helping hand to the surveillance dragnet. Certainly the Guardian articles pointed to at least one company that was apparently quite willing to cooperate. I'm sure there's either increased revenues or increased chance of securing large government contracts as an incentive for them to comply. Probably the opportunity for big contracts is the bigger piece of the pie.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @08:06PM (#44538619)

      It isn't NSA money. Compared to the world's players, the NSA isn't that big. There are a lot of people who want that data too:

      1: LEOs in the US. That NSA info gets forked over to Joe DA who is being forced by the private prisons to shove as many people in jail as possible (or be replaced by someone who can), the NSA stuff is a gold mine. Find people texting at a location after dark at a park? Criminal trespass charges. Kids texting out of school, curfew charges. People on parole seen on a camera by someone else, big cash as those arrestees go in for the long haul. With the fact that all but two states in the US are required by contract to maintain 90% bed occupancy, someone has to fill those beds. Don't forget all the marijuana charges and charges of conspiracy (two people talking about a grow room can felony charges.)

      2: Insurance companies. Already, I have had to go through a physical because someone snapped a photo of me in a humidor and posted it onto FB, and the insurance company questioned if I were a smoker or not, then demanded the physical and drug test. Picture the gold mine they have.

      3: Other country's NSA-departments. Knowing who is a system admin at another country's sensitive /secret/top secret depot is very important, as that person can be given the $5 wrench treatment (or one of their family members) until they give up and do a Snowden. Think the US is good, China has far better technology, intel, and manpower at sigint.

      4: Companies and governments. If an area is starting to have water issues, get the people moving in to raise prices on that sky high.

      So, the NSA by itself isn't a threat. That data in other people's hands is. It would be nice if Google, Apple, etc. would not just keep passively handing items to advertisers, because they are on the verge of losing their entire subscriber (not customer) base to foreign services.

    • Oh please! The American public tweets their favorite sexual positions and post pics of themselves stoned on FB, think they are gonna give a rat's ass about privacy or the NSA?

      I'm sorry but the NSA have the perfect position here in the states with the majority doing mindless exhibitionism so blatant you'll often be able to find out more about them than their lovers know which makes the few that still care about privacy stick out like sore thumbs and that much easier to track. The future is Big bro all right but its gonna be "Big Brah" and it'll be the public gladly handing over every scrap of info about themselves hoping to score a few more likes on whatever social shit is popular this week.

      • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Monday August 12, 2013 @01:23AM (#44539625)
        @hairy -

        The American public tweets their favorite sexual positions and post pics of themselves stoned on FB

        Some people do that stuff. And some people run large corporations and associations that guard their data and communications quite closely. America is not a homogenous group of pot-heads and sex-crazed teenagers.

        Some people are criminal defense attorneys and healthcare law attorneys and civil rights attorneys that are busy suing the government to defend the rights of citizens. You think they want their private emails reviewed by big brother?

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          If 900 people wear pink shirts and 100 wear blue, who do you think will be easier to single out, the pink or the blue? I work with John and Jane Public every. single. day. and I can tell you the ones you are describing is a minority, especially if they are under 40. Like it or not the public at large, especially the young, have become exhibitionist and ego driven as hell and with the MSM glorifying this with everything from updates from celebrity tweets and FB shit to reality TV those that you describe are

      • by umghhh (965931)
        This is where the source of evil is actually - we as a society gave up our privacy long time ago only we gave it to private companies so that they can provide us 'free' services. I can imagine that if NSA's legal rights to monitor everything are curbed then they just purchase the info legally on the market. This and some other little problems are discussed in 'the Net Delusion" among others. I value Snowden's action but I do not believe it matters anymore.I hope I am wrong on that one.
    • As always, consumers will vote with their wallets.

      And, as always, they will vote for convenience, privacy, especially somebody else's, be damned...

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.cTWAINom minus author> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:27PM (#44538093) Journal

    This is called "oppression," when you live in fear of being the "next" target of government "scrutiny."

    • by Mitreya (579078) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ayertim>> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:40PM (#44538173)

      This is called "oppression," when you live in fear of being the "next" target of government "scrutiny."

      And what is the name for all of the businesses who just merrily went along with government requests? Apparently all of the big companies fought very little (if at all)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I wonder what you'd do if you were under the thumb of government pressure. It amazes me you people blame companies for government coercion. Maybe you should concentrate on the root of the problem first... or would you rather goose step for big brother by diverting attention to the 15th man on a 12 man team?

        • by The1stImmortal (1990110) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:19PM (#44538405)

          I think the blame on companies is rooted in the idea that big business will spend insane amounts of effort on avoiding taxation, or lobbying to make legal conditions more favorable to them, but then appears to resist very little when government agencies attempt to intrude on their customers (or users') privacy.

          Of course, it kinda makes sense. Whilst a government might be actively hostile towards its people, big business tends to view customers/consumers/users more like cattle - dispassionately and as disposable.

          In that light, companies that do tend to try to fight for their users (eg, a certain micro-blogging company) seem even more virtuous by comparison.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:10PM (#44538349)

        Quisling [wikipedia.org]

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:17PM (#44538389) Homepage Journal

        And what is the name for all of the businesses who just merrily went along with government requests?

        Corporations. They make fascism [econlib.org] much easier to implement. An out of control judiciary provides the nudges necessary to force most businesses to adopt a corporate form.

        • by bfandreas (603438) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:09AM (#44540039)

          And what is the name for all of the businesses who just merrily went along with government requests?

          Corporations. They make fascism [econlib.org] much easier to implement. An out of control judiciary provides the nudges necessary to force most businesses to adopt a corporate form.

          They so often use wishy-washy tools to convict people it beggars belief. WTF is mail/wire fraud? WTF is obstruction of justice? The Book doesn't clearly tell. And if they find you talked to somebody about this then they'll slap conspiracy on top of it. The general strategy seems to be to slap charge upon charge upon charge onto those cases in the hope that something might stick. And this is usually when juries will pronounce somebody guilty of a couple of the dozens of charges and send somebody into the slammer for things that are hard to understand. It also doesn't help that judges tend to be former DAs. Or that DAs use plea bargains to bully somebody to bear witness against their main mark.

          Also don't the Feds still pay corporate whistleblowers a percentage of the fines? A couple of years back I read of a guy who got 40 Megabucks for this.

          As a private person I'd be much more afraid of the DOJ than some faceless corp.

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:18PM (#44538393) Journal
        And apparently some did, and paid the price.

        Protecting the privacy of citizens should include (or even start with) protecting that privacy from governmental prying eyes. If a company is not obliged by law to comply with a request for information, they should be forbidden, by law, to comply.
      • by Kohath (38547)

        And what is the name for all of the businesses who just merrily went along with government requests?

        Campaign donors.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And what is the name for all of the businesses who just merrily went along with government requests? Apparently all of the big companies fought very little (if at all)

        By the time you get that far you're used to rolling over for government, because you've had to do it a lot. If you don't do what local government says, they will quickly drive you out of business through various types of selective enforcement. Welcome to our world of lawyers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Instead of shutting these services down...why not move them outside of US control...you know...a different country.

    I'm not buying the whole idea that this was done for the good of the users...this sounds more like co-ordinated effort to shut down secure communications with the assistance of the owners.

    • Because... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:39PM (#44538165)

      US businesses are run under US laws even if they are outside the US. This is related to that whole 'you can't bribery, even in countries where that's the norm' thing others have talked about in previous article's comments.

      Basically in order to, as a US citizen, move your business abroad (without serious lobbying power) and forgoe the aforementioned issues, you're need to:
      A. Reincorporate the business in a foreign nation.
      B. Get your customer data transferred to the foreign nation without running afoul of US law.
      C. Not have US citizens who are on the board/in key positions intimidated through legal or extralegal means to provide governmental access to the information.

      Given that Zimmerman is one of the members of this particular company, and went through the predecessors to this with PGP, I'm pretty sure he's well aware of the legal ramifications both domestic and abroad at relocating his business.

      • Make access to the key dependent on cooperation of employees of different CLIENTS of the firm located in highly problematic jurisdictions for enforcing injunctions: Switzerland, Gaza, Somalia and India spring to mind. The Feds are playing legal games; we should do likewise.
    • Re:Why not move? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:40PM (#44538175)

      Instead of shutting these services down...why not move them outside of US control...you know...a different country.

      Name a country that won't turn over whatever information the U.S. government asks for and you'll most likely name a country where the government is worse than the U.S.

      • Re:Why not move? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:12PM (#44538359) Journal

        Antigua

        Nice climate, white sandy beaches, government not worried about telling the US where they can put their IP laws.

        • Re:Why not move? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jelizondo (183861) * <jerry DOT elizondo AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @10:19PM (#44539117)

          By your UID you should be old enough to remember Cayman Islands. Great place, white sandy beaches and a English-backed government.

          When the US Government (thru the OECD) decided that the 400+ banks in Cayman were laundering money, the Cayman government caved in and signed a treaty to provide OECD member states with access to bank information.

          Bear in mind, laundering money back then wasn't about financing terrorist organizations, it was about US citizens not paying taxes.

          More recently, the Swiss turned over data on US citizens who have (had?) Swiss bank accounts.

          Sorry, Antigua won't stand up to the US. No more than Cayman or the Swiss did.

          And no, it will not take a aircraft carrier and its group off the coast. It will only take a call from some senior D.C. politicians before they cave in.

          • Slysoft doesn't seem to be having any problems.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Iceland [torrentfreak.com] is looking good...

        Not only does their gov't respect the human right of privacy, the climate is ideal for major server farms.

    • It's sad we have to move to have freedom. Wasn't this country founded on freedom? It appears that the Constitution has become a piece of toilet paper for Congress.
    • Re:Why not move? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:00PM (#44538275) Journal

      To reliably do this, they must move themselves and have a self-hosted solution. If you host your data with anyone else you need to believe they value your data more than the money to be made from it or you are worth the head-ache of annoyingly trying to protect it from government agencies.

      Over the last 10 years from time to time people within my company (which highly depends on privacy) have suggested hosting our servers/services with external hosting providers/cloud solutions. Every time I refuse. Their arguments are valid. It could be cheaper. It removes the hosting burden. These large providers are experts and could have better security. Even all of that being true the overriding truth as I see it is even though they may be better, cheaper, etc I can promise you we care about our data more than they will. FBI raids a data center for someone elses server and grabs our with it? Sorry, it was the FBIs fault! Any business reality makes handing over our data a legal requirement or just more convenient legally? Sorry we had to!

      The last few months revelations just confirm what I've always known. If security and privacy are your business and you take it seriously, you had better be hosting it yourself. Google may have better technical experts than you, but I promise the people who actually make decisions internally care more about your data and will fight for it more when you host internally.

      • Re:Why not move? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by i.r.id10t (595143) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:25PM (#44538445)

        With corporations, unless they are some group like the EFF and "profits be damned we'll fight for our customers rights" the various legal requests, etc. will make fighting it so expensive that they eventually comply...

        Unfortunately, when it comes down to the individual, things happen.

        "Anonymous drug tip" results in a SWAT raid at 3am where you are shot. Or your family is shot. Same with "anonymous terrorist tip". Or "opps wrong address".

        Ok, I'll turn down the paranoia...

        "Sir, we'd really like to check things out but don't have time to get a Warrant. Do you have something to hide?"

        or

        "Well we know we can't legally get a warrant, but we can harass him with various criminal charges until his lawyer fees bankrupt him or until he complies".

        Or I'll turn the geek paranoia back up

        Slowly but surely over a number of years a back door has made it into GCC and other critial parts of the compiling tool chain that those "terrorists and criminals who use black terminals wtih white text instead of Windows Vista" use... and between access at your ISPs end and exploits that are now present on your computer, via kernel or userland stuff, and they manufacture the evidence or just suck it all off your computer.

      • Another thing we do as much as possible is use self-signed certs as much as possible (obviously not always possible with client facing communications). Even I thought that was paranoid until recently, but if you think about it all the NSA has to do is intercept communication to/from CAs and brute force or have some back-door into that. Brute forcing just that small subset of internet communication can give you the certs to freely read the rest of the 99.9999% of SSL/TLS communication over the web.

      • Sure, self-hosting may work for now, until the government ups the ante by coming up with a new technical means of attack. At best, this will result in a technological arms race much like the one between malware makers and antivir companies. New exploits are being discovered and (ab)used as we speak.

        The only real solution is a political one. The root of the problem is that the current government, in fact all three branches of the executive, legislature and judiciary seem to be of the opinion that their flagr

    • by Arker (91948)

      Most people are not prepared to give up their home country so easily. And that would be what you would have to do. Not simply move the server - also move yourself, all business offices, property, etc. And make sure you do not cross the border (even into allied states in all likelihood) until this is a free country again. Are you ready to do that, to keep your secure email service open?

  • by prz (648630) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @06:38PM (#44538155) Homepage
    We never liked the choices available for secure email for mobile devices, because no email client with PGP encryption was available for smartphones. Instead, we had to install PGP Universal, which is a server-based version of PGP, designed for enterprise environments, which does the PGP encryption and decryption on the server, with PGP private keys stored on the server. Not a good architecture for consumers in today's climate. We strongly preferred to do PGP on the client side, but we were a long way from having a PGP client for mobile devices. And even if we had a PGP client, we would still be stuck with email metadata exposure on the servers, even with the message body encrypted. That's why we were unhappy with Silent Mail, and why we were discussing a phaseout for some weeks before these events. The Lavabit event made it clear we could not put it off any longer. --Phil Zimmermann (spelled with two Ns)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:01PM (#44538281)

      Secure email on mobile phones is not going to happen. The host is compromised.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:13PM (#44538363) Homepage Journal

        The host is compromised.

        This is a good point. Dare I enter my GPG passphrase on a Droid, when Motorola is uploading some fraction of what I do to its servers in the background?

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        Secure email on mobile phones is not going to happen. The host is compromised.

        Why is this not modded higher? The house of cards is about to fall, or may have already fallen. We just need someone with conclusive proof of a Windows specific backdoor to compromise PGP or keylog us. There are so many tens of thousands of files and weekly updates that it's pretty intractable even for AV companies, should MS drop some polymorphic backdoor. I don't quite trust my brand new GPG setup under it. And honestly, why should we trust MS any more than our ISPs? we've known MS to be evil for eons, wh

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      K9 mail + APG for PGP support? PGP *is* supported on mobile devices (Android at least, and I can't see reason for Apple to ban it). I think APG supports the Android GMail client as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        K9 mail only supports PGP/Inline, without the ability to even read PGP/MIME. PGP/Inline has been depreciated for nearly 20 years. Nearly all PGP mail sent is PGP/MIME, so K9's incomplete support is not terribly useful. From the dev's comments, he has very little interest in ever supporting PGP/MIME.

        Also, with Google having root access to your Android phone and the ability to install/remove programs and modify your filesystem at will, do you really trust that your secret key is secure on their phone? Their c

    • by Thomasje (709120)
      What about iPGMail for iOS?
      They claim to implement OpenPGP.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:21PM (#44538423) Journal

    If ever there was a bastion of freedom and personal privacy, it's Russia. As far as I know, they don't even have clandestine operations in the government. I heard it was abandoned when the USSR fell. You need look no further than the show of moral fortitude the Vladimir Putin made when offering Edward Snowden a year, knowing full well that the US government could invade at any moment under the slightest provocation. Freedom and Liberty are the founding cornerstones of not just Russian democracy, but the creed by which every Russian lives, from the top of the government and business all the way down to the lowliest citizen. Everyone there is given a fair shake and speaking your mind is rewarded with praise and admiration.

    It's time we put our collective money where it is respected and get out of the US into a place that will let us live our lives the way we want. Out of oppression and government intimidation and into a land of openness, fairness, and true liberty: Russia.

    • by arcite (661011)
      In Russia you'd have to pay off (or get cozy) with Mafia oligarchs or Putin & the gang, paying protection money and not crossing any red lines. Make a mistake and you find yourself thrown in a hell hole in Siberia, or drinking radioactive tea. At least in the US you can hire a lawyer and get a fair shot, in Russia, the lawyer works against you.
      • by jelizondo (183861) *

        to pay off (or get cozy)

        Of course in the good ol' US of A, you don't pay off, you just have to get cozy with Obama & The Gang, otherwise they sick the IRS, the FBI or the NSA on you.

        Big difference!

    • Considering that Russia has had authoritarian governments for 500 years, they're actually very doing very well, in relative terms, with freedom, privacy, democracy, etc.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @10:09PM (#44539085)

    They told me if I voted for John McCain that government abuse would become so common that it would eventually come to be seen as inevitable. And they were right! [pjmedia.com]

  • Can't they do that? I mean,it will not prevent the US Government from attempting the traffic tapping silently, but at the very least, They will be free from having to obey the request US Government and giving them legal access to their customer data
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @12:25AM (#44539469)

    We were a small ISP, and we got subpoenas multiple times per month. You don't say no to a court order, unless you want to spend some time in court/jail explaining to the judge why you feel like you shouldn't have to comply. This is fine if you're a hippie, have tons of time and money, nothing to lose, and could care less about eventually having a criminal record.
    Due to CALEA, we were required to buy equipment to fulfill "tapping" requests from law enforcement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Assistance_for_Law_Enforcement_Act You can thank Clinton and Congress (1994) for that.
    It was another cost of doing business if you wanted to be a service provider in the U.S. Don't like it? You do something else....and so I did.

  • When the WebCrypto API will be incorporated into most browsers, wouldn't it be possible to develop a PGP version that runs completely in the browser? This way, it can run on mobile devices, and can be used with hosted webmail solutions.

  • Now that a void has opened in this market, I wonder what it would take to set up something very much like Lavabit had? Dunno exactly what they offered but from what I can read posthumously it was little more than a databsse-backed anonymous remailer. Anyone know the details?

    Locate the servers in Iceland or similar but have the company be based elsewhere, just to make it extra hard to get international warrants and similar.

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