Earlier this week, Xeni reported on the shutdown of Lavabit, the email provider used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Ladar Levison, Lavabit’s founder, has given an interview to Forbesabout his reasoning for the shutdown, which comes — apparently — as a result of a secret NSA search-warrant complete with a gag order.
After discussing the general absurdity and creepiness of not being allowed to freely criticize the government for the order they brought to his company, he concludes by saying that he’s stopped using email altogether, and “If you knew what I know about email, you might not use it either.”
“This is about protecting all of our users, not just one in particular. It’s not my place to decide whether an investigation is just, but the government has the legal authority to force you to do things you’re uncomfortable with,” said Levison in a phone call on Friday. “The fact that I can’t talk about this is as big a problem as what they asked me to do.”
Levison’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, who is based in Northern Virginia — the court district where Levison needed representation — added that it’s “ridiculous” that Levison has to so carefully parse what he says about the government inquiry. “In America, we’re not supposed to have to worry about watching our words like this when we’re talking to the press,” Binnall said.
… but not in America today when authoritarians too often run things. Authoritarians of every party.
You also have to think that every single company would be worried about email, since successful industrial espionage would only take a nice size bribe to one of the 1000s of contractors who have the same access as Snowden. Right or wrong, Snowden does not appear to have taken money to walk off with the goods (otherwise I’m sure he would have found a much nicer place to end up). But how many others could?
Instead we have law-abiding citizens being threatened by the government for what they might say about a secret government program. We have law-abiding citizens shutting down their businesses because they can no longer provide the security they promised their customers. This is thanks to the Patriot Act.
These three things should be the rallying cry of all Americans – repeal the UAMF, let the Patriot Act lapse, and fix FISA. These three things are the easiest way to find out which side of the axis politicians fall. Ask yours.
In accomplishing this, we would change the political landscape in ways that would really change us for the better, no matter which side of the political spectrum we inhabit.
Both parties have authoritarians and both parties have those interested in civil libertarians.For probably the next decade, it will be more important that we chose up sides based on where we fall along this axis than where we fall along economic axiis (left-right)