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All Email is Under Surveillance - Testimony of an Owner of an Email Service

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posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 07:53 AM
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I have my email through inbox.com because it's free service allows POP, until September that is. So I'm looking for another free POP email service when I found this letter stating the reasons why a secure email provider known as Lavabit went out of business 3 years ago. The business owner tells us his problems with the government and how they ended up shutting down the Lavabit free secure email service. I know it's only one example, but it is a testimony of an actual business owner that was railroaded because he wanted to protect his clients' rights to privacy. I believe that this is probably standard operating procedure for the federal government and a typical example of what happens when you don't comply with the feds demands.


My company, Lavabit, provided email services to 410,000 people, and thrived by offering features specifically designed to protect the privacy and security of its customers. I had no choice but to consent to the installation of their device, which would have provided the government with access to all of the messages, for all of my customers, as they travelled to and from other providers on the Internet.



August 8th, 2013

My Fellow Users,

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. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests. What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company. This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Sincerely,
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC


Lavabit Letter
edit on 11-8-2016 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo

edit on 11-8-2016 by MichiganSwampBuck because: another typo

edit on 11-8-2016 by MichiganSwampBuck because: another correction



edit on 8/11/2016 by kosmicjack because: title spelling




posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:03 AM
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Here is the link to Lavabit's new project, the Dark Mail Technical Alliance. Maybe they can avoid the same trouble with this one, or they just might have some worse problems on their hands.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:13 AM
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I think we all know that this is happening and that there is nothing we can do about it, but thanks for bringing it up. Maybe someone will tell me what I want to hear...that I am wrong and, besides just not trying to communicate further, there is something that we can do.

S&F

Fishy



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:24 AM
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a reply to: ClownFish


I think we all know that this is happening and that there is nothing
we can do about it, but thanks for bringing it up. Maybe someone will tell
me what I want to hear...that I am wrong and, besides just not trying to
communicate further, there is something that we can do.


There are others who run email servers and have no
problems with Government intervention/infiltration
because they keep a very small members list.

I'm not sure what criterion the Government uses, but
it's possible the 400,000+ client list attracted a lot
of attention. There are several internet
communication methodologies that offer more
security than email.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:25 AM
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When cell phones became an everyday thing, I thought to myself, this would be an easy way for Big Brother to listen to everything we say. When the internet exploded, I though, "Hell, now they have it in writing". This was before I ever joined ATS. It was just a common sense thought to a world wide web of interconnected communication devices. You just knew governments were going to take advantage of it.
My suspicions were confirmed long ago and I made up my mind to say what I damn well please.
I have done nothing wrong, but it's the simple fact that I can't have a truly private conversation that irks me.
I would say I hope they are deeply ashamed of what they've done....but we all know they're not.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:36 AM
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Yea well we've known this for years. Anyone approaching a significant size gets the talk and gets all the mail sniffed.

Solution is easy. Set up your own mail server. I had a thread a while back on mail-in-a-box. It's dummy proof mail server.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:36 AM
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protonmail.com

better than most



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:39 AM
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originally posted by: pl3bscheese
Yea well we've known this for years. Anyone approaching a significant size gets the talk and gets all the mail sniffed.

Solution is easy. Set up your own mail server. I had a thread a while back on mail-in-a-box. It's dummy proof mail server.


Maybe Hillery had a more secure email server then people would like to admit. Interesting.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:40 AM
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a reply to: MrBlaq

It's also worth considering that it might not be how many but WHO is using the service, if governments are watching certain individuals they'll be able to see those individuals traffic but not know the contents of that traffic due to encryption methods.

These days posting an actual letter is probably the most secure form of communication though or talking to someone face to face inside a cave or dense forest where the spy satellites cannot watch you



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:47 AM
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It's always a risk when someone whisltrblows on the government and adds weight to an already existing conspiracy.
Plane crash? Natural causes? Drugs overdose?



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:53 AM
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I used to be in charge of a mail server cluster responsible for ~50,000 email addresses.
The goobers can essentially demand you give them 24/7 access to anything and everything, and also put you under a gag order- so if you say anything you get buried under a prison.

10 out of 10 people will just bow their head in shame and let the corruption keep on keeping on. It's the only way to get on with life.

There is no privacy on the internet- or anywhere else anymore.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:56 AM
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Someone explain to me again how secure data is if your emails travel on the internet?

What was the device the government wanted attached to his server?

Is it that he had over a certain number of subscribers or that his server was secure?



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 08:58 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac

Long times ago there was an empire and a secret method of getting communication through government roadblocks and checkpoints. The messenger was shaved bald and a message was tattooed on his scalp. After the hair grew back he would be sent to deliver the message.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 09:06 AM
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a reply to: Discotech


It's also worth considering that it might not be how many but WHO
is using the service, if governments are watching certain individuals they'll
be able to see those individuals traffic but not know the contents of that
traffic due to encryption methods.

These days posting an actual letter is probably the most secure form of
communication though or talking to someone face to face inside a cave
or dense forest where the spy satellites cannot watch you


You make a very good point. Pretty soon we'll have to use Vernam-cipher
one time pads just to keep everyday private mundane communication away
from that huge NSA data center in Utah.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 09:07 AM
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a reply to: DAVID64

I joined ATS precisely because...well, no, I thought that you had to join to read....but after hesitating, I thought that there might be safety in numbers, but is there?

My mother-in-law marched in a May Day parade in New York during the McCarthy Era....or Error...and my father-in-law was the first white jazz musician to play at the The Savoy....seems harmless enough, but instead, that was "enough" for them to be summoned to answer on charges of Un-american activities.

How does one respond to such absurd accusations, especially when the first thing to happen was to see "TPTB" separate the other family members of the accused? They chose to leave/flee, depending on who was looking...big mistake...the FBI chose to follow them, from country to country to country. They were one of the few American families to be smuggled into a Communist country. But what if they had stayed here...what if they had stayed there...no way to know. Their lives have come and gone.

So, sometimes. like now, I do choose to say whatever I damn well please, but ....but....I can't help but hesitate. Thoughts have consequences. Words have bigger consequences. Actions, bigger still. Perhaps that is why my grandmother, who lived to be 100+ would often say, "It is better to do what's wrong that looks right, than to do what's right that looks wrong." I don't know. I don't think I want to live that long, if that's what it takes.

I think that one gets to an age or to a point of maturity where one begins to weigh in one's mind the consequences of free speech and free conscience, and at first they separate but then they begin to come together again with a calm defiance.


Good conversation...

Fishy



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 09:08 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

And "Net Neutrality" just made it easier.

This isn't a surprise. It's probably why the government wanted it classified as a "utility" in the first place.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 11:15 AM
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You can't keep anything private. People who haven't figured this out yet ... oh well.

And e-mail ... most people truly have no idea how vulnerable e-mail is to an intercept technology. E-mail, very frankly, screams, "Steal me!!"



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 02:11 PM
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In the days that the telegraph was only way to transmit information over long distances, some companies used codes. The purpose of the code wasn't to hide what was being sent, it was to reduce the number of characters that were sent. Telegrams used to bill by the number of words that were in the message. A word consisted of five alpha numeric characters. Why pay for three words to say "John Copeland" when you could make ZXCVB stand for it and only pay for one.

The reason that I bring this up is that if you used a telegraph code, by law you had to give the Federal Government a copy of your code book.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 02:46 PM
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originally posted by: DBCowboy
a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

And "Net Neutrality" just made it easier.

This isn't a surprise. It's probably why the government wanted it classified as a "utility" in the first place.


No, it didn't.

What happened to Lavabit is a tragedy, what's happening to every email provider right now is even worse. That has nothing to do with Net Neutrality though. Lets use a road as an analogy. Your computer is your home and McDonalds is your email server, the destination. You get there with a car (packet of data) that travels along the network (the road). Net Neutrality wanted to give the owners of the road the ability to arbitrarily charge each person that uses the road, and charge the destinations for the ability to connect to the road. It had no impact on how you interact with your destination.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 02:47 PM
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They were a target more so for this,

"A Government Error Just Revealed Snowden Was the Target in the Lavabit Case"

It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets for years: the identity of the person the government was investigating in 2013 when it served the secure email firm Lavabit with a court order demanding help spying on a particular customer.

Ladar Levison, owner of the now defunct email service, has been forbidden since then, under threat of contempt and possibly jail time, from identifying who the government was investigating. In court documents from the case unsealed in late 2013, all information that could identify the customer was redacted.

More Plus Documents

As am sure other independent e-mail servers will be, of course, due to not being government monitored.




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