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Communications Encryption Government Privacy The Courts United States

Gov't Accidentally Publishes Target of Lavabit Probe: It's Snowden (arstechnica.com) 162

AmiMoJo writes: In the summer of 2013, secure e-mail service Lavabit was ordered by a federal judge to provide real-time e-mail monitoring of one of its users. Rather than comply with the order, Levison shut down his entire company. He said what the government was seeking would have endangered the privacy of all of his 410,000 users. Now, what was widely assumed has been confirmed. In documents posted to the federal PACER database this month, the government accidentally left his e-mail, 'Ed_snowden@lavabit.com,' unredacted for all to see.
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Gov't Accidentally Publishes Target of Lavabit Probe: It's Snowden

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:26AM (#51722369)

    Apple and these guys telling the government to fuck themselves.

    The US electorate going apeshit.

    It's like we're in a cold revolution!

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:12AM (#51722811) Journal
      It's like we're in a cold revolution!

      Really cold - Most people have no clue about the implications of these issues (if they even know about them).

      A majority of people, for example, think Apple should roll over for the FBI "just this once" because terrorism, and they see the entire tech world rallying behind Apple (a near frickin' miracle to those of us in the trenches) as nothing but a bunch of damned elitist geeks trying to circle the wagons.
      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:15AM (#51722835) Homepage Journal

        Underrated

        • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
          Even at +5, agreed.
        • There's no cold revolution in this article. Quite the opposite.
          The Feds are letting apple know that they have shut businesses down before and don't plan to flinch.

          Think about it. If Snowden was the focus of the investigation then they would know every document that had snow dens name and they'd specifically know the leaked one.

          Either that or the lava it backside was about general access not just Snowden.

          Either way it points firmly at Apple.

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @11:33AM (#51723641)
        People do not care as long as you make their cage comfortable enough.
        • Wait for it! When you realize that we are the ones making our own cages, then you'll realize who the "they" are.

          I have met the enemy, and they are us.

        • We are all confined to some degree. The earth is a cage from which we cannot escape.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        A majority of people don't even know about the Apple vs FBI issue and therefore have no opinion one way or the other.
      • No, I think most people think that Apple and every other company should comply with court orders. Because that has been part of the law since the founding of the country and we have seen no good reason to change this yet. I guess if you are an ultra capitalist you might want companies to be above the law, but most people would not agree with you.

        • You can fuck off, too... fucking shill.
        • Apple isn't claiming to be above the law. It's claiming the FBI's interpretation of the existing law is invalid. Ultimately, after all appeals have been exhausted, Apple will comply with the final ruling. Until then, let them argue their points.

          That said, I would still love for the judge to send the CEO of a highly rated - and powerful - corporation to jail and NOT stay the order pending appeal. Granted, the appeals court could stay the order. My point is that the courts need to show they have the courage t

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Apple, isn't a party to the matter is the thing. Apple sold the City a product some time ago. The city, its employee, and the victims are parties. Apple isn't. I don't think anyone ever thought or expect a court could or would order someone to cooperate with an investigation they are this far removed from. Do you really think its right the government should be able to make you stop and help them because someone somewhere happened to use something you built potentially a long time ago in a crime?

          What yo

          • Yes, phone companies have had to cooperate with criminal investigations since the telegram was invented. Every civilian and every cooperation has always been expected to offer any and all cooperate in the investigation of crimes, even when it can be proven to be against their best interests. Apple should not get a pass just because they are rich and powerful.

        • by whit3 ( 318913 )

          No, I think most people think that Apple and every other company should comply with court orders. Because that has been part of the law since the founding of the country ...

          Half-truths described as 'part of the law' - accurate, but quite amusing. Search isn't the only issue, here, there's also command authority over software creation and compulsion of Apple's signature.

          The court may not arbitrarily order any action; the order must be limited, and must not impose undue hardship. And the court should

  • So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jandrese ( 485 )
    I guess it is nice that the government accidentally confirmed the obvious, but it's not much of a news story.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:42AM (#51722537)

      I guess it is nice that the government accidentally confirmed the obvious, but it's not much of a news story.

      It's obvious to anyone with a brain. Unfortunately there are people that thinks (or claim that they think) that it is just ramblings of conspiracy theorist nutjobs.
      Having a source to point to is always nice.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think you are being a bit hyperbolic using the word obvious.

        The evidence was reasonable as to draw the conclusion, but it wasn't obvious. And there would always be those who refused to recognize the strong likelihood. However, now, the truth is undeniable.

        • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:04AM (#51722731) Journal

          The point GP was trying to make is that many people are not reasonable and cannot draw conclusions well, so NEED obvious answers.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:56AM (#51723277)

          There are still people who think the "rape" charge against Julian Assange is completely unrelated to his work with Wikileaks, and that the UK would spend millions for surveillance on any ole' Joe facing questioning in Sweden. People are fucking stupid.

          • That is because it is independant. If it was a way to get to Assange, why is it easier to go through Sweden and the UK instead of just the UK? The UK spent millions on surveillance because it was a high profile case of a person evading justice and they knew exactly where he was. Do you have evidence of other people pulling shit like this and just being let go, because "oh well they got away"? Do you expect everyone to just drop the rape charges because Assange refuses to present himself to be charged?

            I

      • In a world where we TRULY have a clandestine nebulous paramilitary think tank spying on every American in an attempt to suppress dissent. And a secret out of country military torture prison where we send such undesirables. The whole "conspiracy theorist nut job" argument kind of goes out the window.
        • Does it hurt to be that paranoid schizophrenic?

          No, there is no think tank spying on everyone, no citizen who has shown dissent has been sent to Gitmo. No one has been arrested or tortured for dissenting against the government.

          • I lack any kind of formal "shill training" so this is pure conjecture... but aren't you supposed to be capable of being a little less obvious about it?
            • I have no idea why you are following me around on this topic and trying to claim I am a shill for repeating things that are available easily on the internet. But I guess you are another paranoid schizophrenic. You should go knock on the window of all of those people spying on you outside!

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        Anybody who tried to argue that it wasn't Snowden was being willfully obtuse. Even CNN [cnn.com] pretty much said it was Snowden.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:53AM (#51722615) Journal

      The real news story is how lavabit was abused in closed court. And they fought back - a bit. Sent the required SSL encryption keys(!) as 4point 11 page document rather than .pem files.

      https://twitter.com/JZdziarski... [twitter.com]

      Read all the other bullshit that the government AND the court/judge got away with behind closed doors.

      • that's not really fighting back. that's just being a douche. fighting back is saying no.

        • by rnturn ( 11092 )
          Saying "no" just lands you in jail for contempt of court. Sending an 11 page document in Flyspeck 3 typeface allows you to comply with the court order with a smirk on your face while saying "here's your effin' keys" and remain a free man.
          • > Sending an 11 page document in Flyspeck 3 typeface allows you to comply with the court order with a smirk on your face while saying "here's your effin' keys" and remain a free man.

            OK, so you do this, then they say give it to me in plaintext, and then you're back at square 1. No means no, and face the consequences. Alternatively no means burning down the entire email service, which he did and I respect.

            • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

              OK, so you do this, then they say give it to me in plaintext, and then you're back at square 1

              Days or weeks later. Stall tactics like that are important in legal maneuvering as they give you time to plan your next move weigh your options without facing a contempt charge.

        • Says the guy without a metaphorical gun, held by the federal government, in his face.

      • by wkk2 ( 808881 )

        The right answer is Sorry the keys are stored in tamper resistant hardware modules and can't be extracted or duplicated without the cooperation of 3 of 5 individuals located in different countries.

        • That's called lying and will land you some hard jail time for contempt of court.

          • by wkk2 ( 808881 )

            I'm not suggesting that anyone start lying. If security is important, just take the extra steps and get hardware that protects the keys and contracts to divide the access.

      • The real news story is how lavabit was abused in closed court. And they fought back

        Reading through that a large part of what they did was just be incompetent douche-bags in the face of a lawsuit. Stuck without representation, they fired their lawyers mid case. Asked to hand over documents, instead did the equivalent of paying a fine with a truck of pennies. Playing the game is not meant to be confused with pissing off people in power to the point where they get tired of your shit.

        What the government did was wrong. What Lavabit didn't do is make it any better.

        • They were in a FISA court, and being abused by both government & judge.

          They didn't really have any other options. Plus, this was a stalling tactic while they tried to think of any other options. When they came up with none, they shut down the company.

          In Soviet America, courts abuse you!

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

          by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @03:23PM (#51726331) Journal

          Stuck without representation, they fired their lawyers mid case.

          I think that you are rewriting history. The government got the case moved to a court where their existing lawyers could not represent them (not admitted). Finding a new lawyer with the requisite security clearance in the time required wasn't possible.

          The government screwed them over with the assistance of the courts. How well would you do in court against the government without a lawyer?

    • I guess it is nice that the government accidentally confirmed the obvious, but it's not much of a news story.

      This is the point of my comment below....there was a time when a revelation like this would have been major news, all the papers and news stations would have had a field day with it, and heads would have rolled. Now there's barely the merest hint of interest, and not a shred of outrage.

      The public has been thoroughly desensitized to what should be seen as egregious and illegal behavior by the government, yet for most people it's basically a snoozefest

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:54AM (#51723243) Homepage Journal

      The news story is what happens if The People ever start to care about their most basic rights. Because if they gave a fuck, the obvious followup question to the government is: Why was it necessary to keep the target a secret? Everyone knew about Snowden and assumed it was Snowden. Yet Levison was told he can't tell anyone his system was being attacked or else.

      I want to know why "don't state the obvious" was a legitimate reason to use secret police powers. Go ahead and explain it, government: this is going to be hilarious.

      This new experimental power should be revoked. It didn't work out. The government proved it can't be trusted with the "you don't have 1st, 4th and 5th amendment rights whenever we say 'this is an important post-9/11 exception'" power. Seriously: does anyone have any doubts that the question isn't completely settled now?

      Is there still any controversy? Whether you're pro-Snowden or anti-Snowden, now that cat is out of the bag on this case, tell me how things might have gone differently if Snowden had found out that Lavabit was under attack.

  • was it an accident? Or was it hate for the in charge?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    no accident. The government intended people to know that they'll shut down any service if you piss them off enough.

    -memnock

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would seem to me that someone who seemed so paranoid (rightfully so) would use a pseudonym or alias of some sort.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:58AM (#51722667)

    The guy hasn't done anything wrong, yet lost his business due to governmental pressure.

    The government (which in effect means the taxpayers) should compensate this man for the loss of his business. He had the personal integrity to stand up for his users even at great personal cost to himself. If our society shits on people like that, while the ones who succeed are people like this [slate.com], then I think we've lost the plot. Our society is rotten to the core.

    We need to start treating people like Snowden (or apparently this Levison chap) with respect for their service to the public, and punishing the people who are responsible for the wrong doings to begin with, rather than punishing the whistleblowers.

    Yes, the money to compensate him for the loss of his business comes out of taxpayer coffers, but it's lost in the noise of graft and corruption losses, and anyway, we, the taxpayers, elected the clowns that caused the problem, so it's really our fault in the end.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      THIS.

      I am so sick of the government's willingness to throw American companies under the bus and destroy jobs. I am glad Apple is fighting back.

      How much longer will we allow the economy to be wrecked for the perception of "security".

      How much longer until the global market for American products dries up completely because of fear of American spying?

      You've already got Microsoft offshoring cloud servers to get out from under Uncle Sam's thumb.

      The NSA, FBI and the politicians who support them need to be bitchsl

  • . . . .Top men, I tell you. . . . (grin) Mind you, even a layman can see what a clown car it usually is. . . . The fact that MOST of the evidence that Snowden was the target was redacted, probably got some Fed promoted to GS-15, and a nice performance bonus.
    • You think people get promoted for redacting? Nobody gets a promotion for properly redacting anything.

      Corporate Redactions used to be done by legal assistants, but the trend has moved to have lawyers do them. It would not surprise me if the DOJ had assistants do it, rather than senior people.

      No one ever cares about redactions done properly, you can't get a promotion for doing it well, only a demotion/firing for doing it poorly

      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
        Ah, but a good job of cock-blocking a FOIA request WILL often get you promoted. . . Lord knows, it explains far too much about Washington. And I suspect the other national capitals are pretty much the same, or worse. . .
  • by jodido ( 1052890 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:13AM (#51722815)
    Where were all the conservatives who complain about government regulation strangling businesses when government regulations strangled Lavabit?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:33AM (#51723021)

      If you actually read the articles, you would have seen at the time that they were there. Conservatives are and were against unbounded government intrusion "security at the expense of liberty"; there's a lot in common with pure Libertarians and republican Conservatives. Just as the Democrat party is composed of factions of Communist, big-government Statist, Social Liberal and hands-off-my-freedom Libertarian elements, the Republicans are composed of big-government Statist, individualist Conservative and hands-off-my-business Libertarian factions.

      This is why there is such a schism in the GOP in this election cycle, where the large-government status-quo establishment is fighting to retain power in light of populist & conservative challengers leading the race.

  • Does any one really believe that Edward Snowdens email address is 'Ed_snowden@lavabit.com' ?
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:51AM (#51723223) Homepage Journal

      Does any one really believe that Edward Snowdens email address is 'Ed_snowden@lavabit.com' ?

      No. He would either have capitalized both the E and the S.or neither.

      • No. He would either have capitalized both the E and the S.or neither.

        Clearly, you did not RTFA. The /. editors (or the submitter) got the capitalization wrong.

        • No. He would either have capitalized both the E and the S.or neither.

          Clearly, you did not RTFA. The /. editors (or the submitter) got the capitalization wrong.

          I did RTFA but I didn't pick up on that because I have human fallibility.

    • I would have done Snow_eddon@lavabit.com. That'd surely throw 'em for a for(;;);

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      The Government might. Not the NSA, of course. They're pretty competent. Probably not the FBI. Maybe the justice department. They're like the NSA's retarded kid brother. You know, the one your friend always had to watch and had to wear a helmet to go safely out of the house. Some flunky over there might actually believe you'd put your real name on an anonymous Email service.
    • Why not? Did you find any evidence of a man using a pseudonym? His twitter spells out his full name. People often use full names for email communication. It means they want to be easily contactable, not snooped on.

  • The worst part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:48AM (#51723189)

    The worst part is that shit like this is no longer surprising or noteworthy.

    There was a time when a revelation like this would have been major news, all the papers and news stations would have had a field day with it, and heads would have rolled. Now there's barely the merest hint of interest, and not a shred of outrage.

    The public has been thoroughly desensitized to what should be seen as egregious and illegal behavior by the government, yet for most people it's basically a snoozefest.

    • It should be surprising that the government is incompetent or it should be surprising that the government wanted to look at the emails of a suspect traitor/contract breaker? There are people that believe that Snowden should be protected under leaker laws, but even they are likely to believe that the government would be within its rights to look into what and how he leaked the government documents.

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      The worst part is that shit like this is no longer surprising or noteworthy.

      There was a time when a revelation like this would have been major news, all the papers and news stations would have had a field day with it, and heads would have rolled. Now there's barely the merest hint of interest, and not a shred of outrage.

      The public has been thoroughly desensitized to what should be seen as egregious and illegal behavior by the government, yet for most people it's basically a snoozefest.

      The most popular news companies don't devote any time to long-term stories, or do any investigative journalism anymore. The focus is on being first and being entertaining. Most are bought and paid for on certain issues.

      There are many outfits that still do news the old-fashioned way, but they are usually small, niche, and don't have the funding that the major networks have. They also have different focuses and strengths. News today is about figuring out who has an agenda on a topic-by-topic basis. Vice

  • Showing once again that the federal government can keep a secret about as well as a kindergartener.
  • I thought the point of lavabit was some anonymity.. why use his name in the email address? Willing to email as himself just didn't want others reading what he was sending I guess?

  • If in doubt, research Alan Turing, what he did, how his team basically won WWII by besting enigma.

    Some years ago, people made fun of federal munitions export restrictions by printing simple encryption/decryption code on Tshirts. We were the enlightened, chuckling at how darn near impossible it would be to truly ensure encryption technologies didn't spread around like wildfire.

    Crypto DID spread like wildfire - the federal government's regulations couldn't stop it. Good encryption's everywhere now. (well,

  • I guess Apple has an order of magnitude greater amount of resources to fight the US Government. Of course the FBI and prosecutors don't really have a budget as they can spend enough money to put people on the moon to win in courts. The only thing we can do as citizens is to contact our legislators and tell them how we feel about the FBI wasting our money. We can also let them know about Lavabit being taken out of service because of the Governments insistence on getting into it's email system and how we d
  • Now that they've published Snowden's email in the clear, he's gonna get spammed big time.

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