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ACLU: Lavabit Was 'Fatally Undermined' By Demands For Encryption Keys 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the understatement-of-the-century dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When encrypted email provider Lavabit shut down in August, it was because U.S. authorities demanded the company release encryption keys to get access to certain accounts. Lavabit's founder, Ladar Levison, is facing contempt of court charges for his refusal to acquiesce to their demands. But now the ACLU has filed a 'friend of the court' brief (PDF) in support of Levison, saying that the government's demand 'fatally undermined' the secure email service. 'Lavabit's business was predicated on offering a secure email service, and no company could possible tell its clients that it offers a secure service if its keys have been handed over to the government.' The ACLU added, 'The district court's contempt holding should be reversed, because the underlying orders requiring Lavabit to disclose its private keys imposed an unreasonable burden on the company. Although innocent third parties have a duty to assist law enforcement agents in their investigations, they also have a right not to be compelled "to render assistance without limitation regardless of the burden involved."' Lavabit is also defending itself by claiming a violation of the 4th amendment has occurred."
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ACLU: Lavabit Was 'Fatally Undermined' By Demands For Encryption Keys

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  • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @06:03PM (#45247557)

    And if they had done it quietly, they would still be in business. Lavabit sabotaged their own business to make a stand. I think it's a foolish stand, because their business model was fundamentally flawed from a security standpoint: they had users' encryption keys.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @06:35PM (#45247739)
    There is no such thing as 'access to a few accounts' in their model. And the feds weren't involved in a legitamite operation anyway. They were trying to track down someone who had exposed their crimes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:13PM (#45247951)

    The FBI was not interested unless the could get access to his private SSL key. He offered several times to help them install their pen tap and trace device but the FBI was not interested unless they could load it with his private SSL key.

    He was also found in contempt of court after he provided his private SSL keys.

    This was a case of the FBI picking on someone so hard they figured they had to carry guns to meetings with him when he was being cooperative.

    This was the actions of an individual who honestly thought there was a mix up and once everything was explained to everyone (ie the Judge or the FBI officiers) this nonsense would have gone away. It didn't.

    And do you want to live in a world where a secret court can compel any and every secret private key? It totally defeats the entire security architecture of the internet as it now stands. This is bad juju.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:28PM (#45248033)

    First dictionary definition of duty: a moral or legal obligation.

    As usual, Jane talks out of his ass with no understanding of even the most basic things.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:47PM (#45248149) Homepage Journal

    for pity sake, why will slashdot not recognise simple linefeeds?

    Select "Plain Old Text" and it will, and you can still use HTML (and the < still takes an &lt; to display).

    <b> Bold</b>
    <i> italic</i>
    <a href=""> Link []</a>

    Line feeds used, no <P> or <br>

Programmers do it bit by bit.