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Friday, October 4, 2013

'You don't need to bug an entire city to bug one guy's phone calls'

I read an interesting story yesterday, and it seems particularly interesting when paired with the news articles I wrote about Tuesday.

There were news reports a few weeks ago that Lavabit, a secure email service apparently similar to Hushmail, had suddenly shut down rather than comply with a federal government order.  The news stories at the time did not make it clear what the dispute was about.

Now, however, with the unsealing of court documents, news organizations can report what happened: the FBI wanted to read the messages of one of the company's customers, Edward Snowden. But not just Snowden's messages:

Mr. Levison was willing to allow investigators with a court order to tap Mr. Snowden’s e-mail account; he had complied with similar narrowly targeted requests involving other customers about two dozen times.

But they wanted more, he said: the passwords, encryption keys and computer code that would essentially allow the government untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. That, he said, was too much.

“You don’t need to bug an entire city to bug one guy’s phone calls,” Mr. Levison, 32, said in a recent interview. “In my case, they wanted to break open the entire box just to get to one connection.”

On Aug. 8, Mr. Levison closed Lavabit rather than, in his view, betray his promise of secure e-mail to his customers. 

Full New York Times article here. 

What I'm struck by is how reasonable Levison was and how unreasonable the government was. He was perfectly willing, apparently, to comply with court orders for probes into individual customers. The National Security State apparently wants to be able to spy on anybody, anytime, anywhere, and destroy anyone who stands in its way.

Notice how this takes place in the administration of a "liberal," rather than the right wing George W. Bush administration.  Do elections matter very much for the National Security State?

1 comment:

Bobby Campbell said...

And this is the other reason I wanted Obama to win!

I remember just before the election in 08 people were talking about how great it was that Obama was going to win and how things were going to change, and then I'd ask: "what if things don't change? What do we do then?" I only and always got prodigious silence in response.

And now we live in that silence, and it could be a really, really good thing.

If Romney had won would the reality of the situation sink in quite so deep?

Obama was sold as the new JFK/MLK, and I'm not saying folks won't get fooled again, because of course we will, but I certainly think it has accelerated the dialectic of the 2 party system towards its logical conclusion of multiplicity.

Hillary in 2016, obviously, but all towards that one great goal, slowly, surely, and PEACEFULLY.