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NSA Forces Lavabit to Shut Down

NSA Forces Lavabit to Shut Down

By Dennis Loo (8/14/13)

Lavabit's founder and operator Ladar Levison, whose email encryption program was used by whistleblower Edward Snowden to contact media before he went public on his revelations, has been forced to shut down his company. While Levison is unable to state directly why he has suspended his operations, it is very straightforward to read between the lines from what he has said: "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."

The "complicit in crimes" that he is referring to above would be if he continued to offer for sale his encryption services after being forced by the NSA to give them the key to read the encrypted emails. In other words, he's been strong-armed into divulging the encryption passkey to the U.S. government, and told that he can't tell us that that is what has happened. This is analogous to what librarians have been told to do under the Patriot Act - to reveal their patrons' reading and borrowing habits to the government and barred from telling their clients that they have done so.

Rather than perpetrate a fraud upon his customers by selling them something that the NSA has now made worthless, Levison has decided to close his business down. Meanwhile he's pursuing relief in court. Taking it to court is on the one hand, a reasonable effort. At the same time, it is insufficient as the resolution to this must be primarily carried through in the realm of political struggle - specifically, mass resistance and protest. You can read Levison's full public statement here at Boing Boing.

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