Thursday, October 03, 2013

Why Lavabit shut down

Back in August, secure email provider Lavabit shut down to protect their customers. And now we know why: because the FBI had demanded their SSL key:

The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden’s e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.

The July 16 order came after Texas-based Lavabit refused to circumvent its own security systems to comply with earlier orders intended to trace the internet IP address of a particular Lavabit user. The name of the target is redacted from the unsealed records, but the offenses under investigation are listed as violations of the Espionage Act, leaving little doubt that NSA whistleblower Snowden was the target.

And to put this in context, its like the police not just demanding to search your place under a search warrant, but to be given a key so they can come back whenever they want and steal whatever takes their fancy. Its intrusive, over-broad, and contemptuous of people's rights. But then, that's all the US government is these days.