An ACT of WAR – So the WWIII Internet War’s Begin – Let it be known that Little ‘Lava-Bit’ was the incendiary force to Start Internet USA WWIII

The government strikes again, but finds yet another American willing to fight. Applause is not enough!

9 August 2013

Summary:  As the Second Republic fades away, the Constitution abandoned, the government grows more powerful and bolder. As we see in its latest strike against Edward Snowden. But this time something strange happened. They came up against yet another American. A real American, willing to fight for the Republic against the government even at great personal cost. Don’t treat this as a spectator sport, with yourself as a consumer of news. Write your representatives. If you can, support the organizations on the front lines.

Lavabit

“Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, Chapter 12 (1959)

Contents

  1. The Empire strikes at Lavabit
  2. About Lavabit
  3. About National Security Letters
  4. What was the Liberty Tree?
  5. For More Information

(1)  The Empire strikes at Lavabit

Lavabit was founded circa 2004 by Dallas programmers to provide (from their Features page) “a priceless level of security, particularly for customers that use e-mail to exchange sensitive information.”  They claim to have 350 thousand clients, reportedly one was Edward Snowden. Lavabit appears to have been served with a National Security Letter by the US government. Unlike the big telecom companies, however, Lavabit took the high road.  The Founders cheer!  Their home page now reads:

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

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

Lavabit deserves our support!

(2)  About Lavabit

From Wired:

LIberty Tree

Let’s watch while they cut it down!

 

.

Based in Texas, Lavabit attracted attention last month when NSA leaker Edward Snowden used an email account with the service to invite human rights workers and lawyers to a press conference in the Moscow airport where he was then confined. A PGP crypto key apparently registered by Snowden with a Lavabit address suggests he’s favored the service since January 2010 — well before he became the most important whistleblower in a generation.

… Reading between the lines, it’s reasonable to assume Levison has been fighting either a National Security Letter seeking customer information — which comes by default with a gag order — or a full-blown search or eavesdropping warrant. Court records show that, in June, Lavabit complied with a routine search warrant targeting a child pornography suspect in a federal case in Maryland. That suggests that Levison isn’t a privacy absolutist. Whatever compelled him to shut down now must have been exceptional.

… Lavabit has 350,000 users who aren’t Edward Snowden, and some are decidedly unhappy with Levison’s decision, judging by a flood of angry comments posted to Lavabit’s Facebook page this afternoon.

“Too bad that I payed some years in advance to keep up the good work that now turns out to be terminated without any warning,” wrote one user. “I relied on this service which is basic for my private as professional online communication and have no idea how to migrate mails and recover mails being sent that never reached me in the past 18 hours.”

“I have my Steam account and EVERYTHING on Lavabit,” wrote another. “Please have the servers running so that we can migrate our services.”

“How am I supposed to migrate?” a third user added. “Some services require a confirmation sent to the old email address to be able to switch. I can’t believe this. I just switched to Lavabit only a couple of weeks ago to get away from Hotmail snooping my shit.”

A minority of commenters were more supportive.

“Holy shit, you guys are crying over your Steam accounts. Just change your email to something else. Lavabit either had to roll over for the government, compromising our privacy, or shut down service. Be happy Ladar shut it down instead of rolling over.”

(3)  About National Security Letters

(a)  From the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“defending your rights in the digital world”):

Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act the National Security Letter (NSL) power under 18 U.S.C. § 2709 as expanded by PATRIOT Section 505 is one of the most frightening and invasive. These letters served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens’ private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. Recipients of NSLs are subject to a gag order that forbids them from ever revealing the letters’ existence to their coworkers to their friends or even to their family members much less the public.

Donate to the EFF here!

(b) What It’s Like to Get a National-Security Letter“, The New Yorker, 28 June 2013

In the summer of 2011, while he was fighting an indictment for alleged computer crimes, Aaron Swartz, an information activist, read Kafka’s “The Trial” and commented on it at his Web site.

A deep and magnificent work. I’d not really read much Kafka before and had grown up led to believe that it was a paranoid and hyperbolic work, dystopian fiction in the style of George Orwell. Yet I read it and found it was precisely accurate—every single detail perfectly mirrored my own experience. This isn’t fiction, but documentary.

His words came back to me in force last week when I spoke with Brewster Kahle, the founder of the nonprofit Internet Archive, perhaps the greatest of our digital libraries, and of the Wayback Machine, which allows you to browse an archive of the Web that reaches back to 1996. He is one of very few people in the United States who can talk about receiving a national-security letter. These letters are one of the ways government agencies, in particular the F.B.I., can demand data from organizations in matters related to national security. They do not require prior approval from a judge, only the assertion that the information demanded is relevant to a national-security investigation. Recipients of a national-security letter typically are not allowed to disclose it.

Kahle’s experience has new purchase in light of recent stories of secret courts and mass surveillance; the machinery of our government seems to have taken on an irrational life of its own. We live in a surreal world in which a “transparent” government insists on the need for secret courts; our President prosecutes whistle-blowers and maintains a secret “kill list”; and private information is collected in secret and stored indefinitely by intelligence agencies.

(c)  Google’s “Transparency Report“, listing orders to them from the US government.

(d)  Articles by the American Civil Liberties Union about National Security Letters. Donate to the ACLU here.

(4) What was the Liberty Tree?

The Liberty Tree (1646–1775) was an elm tree that stood in near Boston Common, providing a rallying point for the rebellion of the American colonies. In the years that followed, almost every American town had its own Liberty Tree, a living symbol of people’s support for the resistance to tyranny.  {paraphrased from Wikipedia}

“They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”
— From the title page of An Historical review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania (1759); written by Richard Jackson and published by Benjamin Franklin

(5)  For More Information

A few of the posts discussing our gradual loss of rights:

Posts about Edward Snowden:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
  2. America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
  3. Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013 — About civil disobedience
  4. Will a wave of leakers undercut America’s national security?, 8 July 2013

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