Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service

Tech Dirt -by Mike Masnick

from the either-you-help-us-spy-on-people-or-you’re-a-criminal dept

The saga of Lavabit founder Ladar Levison is getting even more ridiculous, as he explains that the government has threatened him with criminal charges for his decision to shut down the business, rather than agree to some mysterious court order. The feds are apparently arguing that the act of shutting down the business, itself, was a violation of the order:  

… 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.

That same article suggests that the decision to shut down Lavabit was over something much bigger than just looking at one individual’s information — since it appears that Lavabit has cooperated in the past on such cases. Instead, the suggestion now is that the government was seeking a tap on all accounts:

Levison stressed that he has complied with “upwards of two dozen court orders” for information in the past that were targeted at “specific users” and that “I never had a problem with that.” But without disclosing details, he suggested that the order he received more recently was markedly different, requiring him to cooperate in broadly based surveillance that would scoop up information about all the users of his service. He likened the demands to a requirement to install a tap on his telephone.

It sounds like the feds were asking for a full on backdoor on the system, not unlike some previous reports of ISPs who have received surprise visits from the NSA.


2 thoughts on “Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service

  1. Being arrested seems to have little to do with breaking the law these days.

    Either you obey Obama’s troops, or off to indefinite detention you go. You can say a lot about this country, but you certainly can’t call it America anymore. Anyone who thinks this country bears any resemblance to the constitution’s dictates is seriously deluded.

    We’ve gone so far off track as a nation that we’ve left ourselves only one option for our salvation.

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