Privacy Is Our Polic— Government Style
Look, I have to admit that I have a very low opinion of how secure or protected any free service is on the internet. If I want to post any random crap on a site that hundreds of “friends” can read, and it’s free, I’m sure there’s a catch. Same for e-mail. I’ve had the same free inbox on a service for nearly 20 years. I don’t expect a lot out of it, other than a place to direct SPAM.
Lavabit [LLC, a secure e-mail service] said [it] was barred by federal law from elaborating on the order or any of his communications with federal prosecutors. But a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison’s lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered — stating that Levison may have “violated the court order,” a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court.
Essentially, secure e-mail services are being threatened by government legal action, and many of the services would rather shut down than provide info. I understand the security implications of this, and I also have a good idea on how hard it would be for the government to break a specific e-mail if necessary (my supposition: not all that hard, really, not if they really wanted the info).
What gets me here is that the government is impinging on free enterprise because it’s concerned for some fairly nebulous safety issues. Encrypted services can be compromised in a variety of ways, so a ham-handed effort to just require a service to hand over info with no warrant… well that’s dumb. In the least, it gets a popular internet site on your case.
Technology vs. security is going to become a bigger issue as things move forward, and I seriously doubt that legal threats will slow the tide at all.