So there we have it, a modern-day Geheime Staatspolizei in the USA.
I wonder what lunacy will pop up next.
I'd say that actually simplifies the situation quite nicely. It is unreasonable. Period. The end.
Not only you have to suffer from a person holding a gun, you also should not even try to ask for help. You are a hostage in the hands of an armed sadistic monster. That's what it is.
I wonder how words like "socialist", "radical", or "reactionary" become insults. are these trends cyclical like fashion and seasons or perhaps not accurately predictable like day-to-day weather?
Mathematicians would never accept bullying as a proof. Scientist with an opinion does not expect that people would simply believe him and follow his ideas. He has to waste as much time as needed to prove he's right. And if he cannot make people voluntarily trust him, he'd simply go home, not to the Congress to pass a law.
Politician, pope or abusive parent do not do that. They bully you directly, bribe people around to bully you, bully other people to discourage you from following their steps and so on. Then, after enough bullying and brainwashing generations of children in state-organized schools, folks have impression that "that's how we signed our social contract". The usual response to this red-pill knowledge is "you are too radical, the world is not black and white".
So here I am. The world is indeed not black and white. And that's precisely why we cannot have any blind beliefs in a centralized violent institution. You don't trust random unarmed stranger. Why would you EVER trust a group of well-motivated trained, and armed, and protected professional killers?
The only way out of this hell is to acknowledge that violence is never justified. Even in case of a self-defense. In the latter case, the most you can count on is being understood and forgiven by people around you. But both you, they and your victim would be better off if you didn't end up in that situation. That's why people use insurance, locks, video cameras, boycott, identification, thick walls instead of training for being all-powerful supermen. We prevent issues to avoid "solving" them by force. Plain simple.
Government is entirely opposite of what methods we use in our private lives with our fellow friends and neighbours.
There are actual individuals out there. Some of them believe they live in a magical part of the globe with some values within its geography. Others use abstractions like "liberty", "democracy", "national borders" etc to justify bullying some people at expense of other people (and never at their own expense - which is important!).
"America", "Russia", "government", "police", "justice", "court", "nation" - all are made-up words used to justify kicking everyone's ass. People can agree on more peaceful ways to define property rights and protect each other and their environment, then simply believe that existing mafia has a mandate to solve all these problems under "public watch".
If you compare modern pro-government rhetoric with theology of 13th century, you'll find a lot of parallels. Simply replace "god" with "society".
"Without religion and church there's no morality" => "without government we'll have anarchic apocalypses"
"You must trust pope because he's set here by God" => "You must trust mr. president because there is society that elected him"
"If god does not exist, who created everything?" => "Without government how would we build roads and fly to the moon?"
"The Bible says what's good and what's bad" => "The constitution defines our rights."
I think if Levison was arreted, it would be a turning point in the political implications of this case. From the slow response, it seems like the authorities are worried about doing this. And rightfully so.
I have to suspect that's because he was willing to shut down his company and make a big stink. It he hadn't done that, I think it would have been much easier for the feds to arrest some random guy in a Dallas apartment, suggesting that he's a nefarious hacker in league with Snowden and possibly other nefarious people. With 10k users, I'm sure they could find something to say that there were, say, "suspected drug dealers" using the service.
It was very smart of him to get out front of the story. Now if the Feds go after him, he's the businessman taking a principled stand.
This has been my argument with Snowden, too. It's damning that people have to raise a huge fuss in the media by deep-sixing themselves before the government gets to spin their story in order to not get railroaded.
Why so many are stuck on the fact he "shut down the company" and did a good dead. I been downvoted about this before and its fine, I just didnt get my answer.
The Feds did not ask him to shut down; it wasnt Government mission. Their mission was to get access to Lavabit data. Said that, regardless if he shut down or not, Government will or already did get full access to Lavabit data. Its even worse that they shut down; if they were online you could go and clean up your mailbox (not necessarily from anything illegal, but for example your own naked pictures you sent to your wife). But since they are offline, nothing can be done. Government won.
Levison gets extra karma because he put everyone's interests ahead of his own short-term financial interests. By shutting his business in the manner that he did, he has poisoned the well for gov't snooping at other similar services. If he is lucky, he may suffer little or no further gov't retribution.
On the other hand, if Lavabit merely got a warrant of Edward Snowden's email, shutting down the service and claiming they can't talk about it is just a publicity stunt since secret or not, it's pretty clear the government has a legally valid reason for that warrant.
From my perspective, as a foreigner, the US Government is currently doing a ridiculous chicken dance to avoid overt similarities to any famous totalitarian government. But at the same time, it seems very obvious that it is systematically sidestepping many principles of democracy and the rule of law. You won't be able to say something like "The US Government agencies are acting like the Stasi" and have all your facts intact. But there are plenty of dodgy things happening that would fit smoothly into the policy of many previous totalitarian governments.
I think that pointing out all these small details in a credible fashion is one of the necessary actions to get more popular support against these policies. Things aren't looking very good.
IMO, by doing all of these interviews where all he can be specific about is that he has had to close down his modestly successful independent business in order to protect his customers, he's made himself pretty safe. That is, until some child-porn ring bust gets press released as using lavabit as a crucial means of communication.
― Franz Kafka, The Trial
It's not hard at all. A government mandating people do things that they can't tell anybody is not reasonable by any measure.
I just hope it will be a rational and calm revolution, not a bloody one.
-George Orwell, 1984
Bread and circus.
I think you're right, there will be no revolution. But there's a good chance the US Empire will gradually dissolve and collapse in on itself. For example, Congress seems intent on making the governement non-functioning.
Perhaps the NSA has a sense of history, and are trying to delay our eventual collapse, thinking that the institution and empire itself is rotten and calcified. But I'm often charitable that way.
> The first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"). It reached its greatest expanse during the reign of Trajan (98–117 AD). In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified and stabilized under the emperors Aurelian and Diocletian. Christians rose to power in the 4th century, during which time a system of dual rule was developed in the Latin West and Greek East. After the collapse of central government in the West in the 5th century, the eastern half of the Roman Empire continued as what would later be known as the Byzantine Empire.
"They load the clip in omnicolour
Said they pack the 9, they fire it at prime time"
Words cannot describe the restraint I'm exercising right now, to not just post lyrics and generally endulge. I know HN is not the place for that, but I still want to leave this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljQ2DM8Mve4
What the government wanted was to trojan the code (collect passwords because the encryption was based on them), and do so invisibly to the users.
Levison prevented this by shutting down the service - that is the real offence. The technicality on which he could be arrested is that he indicated the reason for the shutdown in the message to users on the front page - albeit only by implication.
The importance of this, which I think that even many techies may be missing, is that service owners no longer have a choice of what code to run on their own servers. If you run a service that enables secure communications, you can be forced to subvert the code to the detriment of users and effeectively lie about it and deceive the users. You can refuse to participate by quitting the job (unless the 13th Amendment is also being trampled) - but according to the new, defacto US policy, you have to allow the service to continue in trojaned form, otherwise you're subject to prosecution for revealing the government wiretapping to the targets.
Remember, Lavabit voluntarily complied with other court orders, so they likely have the technical means to comply with what the feds want.
I do not believe for a second the NSA was looking simliar information.
So we just get this one sided narrative with a "fresh" new story every 2 or 3 days. It may be disturbing that he can be arrested but is that really news to anyone here? What's the point of a surveillance order if you can't back it up? We lock people up for contempt of court. You have to have a stick if you want folks to comply. Yet here is this story a few days after the main story and just as Lavabit was falling off the global media front page. This keeps the issue alive and hammers the government again. All trademarks of an excellent PR campaign. This narrative is having a withering effect upon those driving these programs as politicians see their constituents slowly turn from understanding of the need for these programs to alarmed by them.
That the government has been unable to mount any sort of credible counter story is pretty amazing to me and somewhat a relief. After all, true police states have amazing propaganda machines. This one feels reminiscent of an intern running marketing at a startup!
Congress got a little feisty about these programs, and for a week we started hearing about "chatter" that was threatening US embassies. We closed embassies and said scary things. Then we bombed some Al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula folks in Yemen. The next day, with much less fanfare, it was reported that it wasn't "chatter" (which implies stuff from the NSA monitoring), but a specific warning from an official in the government of Yemen.
These sorts of things are very effective at controlling Congress, especially House members. Nobody wants to be the Congressman who pushed to shutdown programs that thwart terrorists. At the end of the day, what you think doesn't matter. It's what your Congressional representatives think -- and the ability of the administration to manipulate the general public's sense of fear makes it difficult to dismantle these programs.
It does seem like publicity (and public opinion) is the only defence, that works, to a certain extent:
- William Binney (NSA) - "tricked" FBI to record evidence of malicious prosecution
- Bradly Manning - got publicity, but was under military jurisdiction
- Snowden - got publicity - is still(?) alive
- Joseph Nacchio (qwest ceo) - was first indicted, then tried to claim being framed (not commenting on the truth of this, just the (public perception of) sequence of events
- lavabit - early publicity, rides "Snowden"-wave. Hopefully that'll work.
Assuming that he is guilty of the charges against him, it would still be interesting to know if he became a target of investigation as a result of refusing to cooperate with the NSA. I'm not saying that is the case, but that it could be the case.
That being said, It may have <likely> been the case that (1) Nacchio may have had access to information that (if made public) could have compromised/damaged the NSA's institutional interests and/or the reputation of its principals; and (2) he may well have threatened to make such information to become public. But (1) comes with the territory or running a bell operating company (US west); and (2) comes with the territory of being a desperate, CEO about to be thrown in Jail. Since these alternative explanations are alot simpler and easy to make sense of, Its not worth walking out on a limb to support the alternative hypothesis that the NSA somehow framed Nacchio. It would be (at best) like framing al capone for tax evasion, understanding it also to be a fact that he did evade taxes.
Similar to how intelligence services (allegedly) watch "targets" with the aim to use any illegal/questionable activity to leverage them into assets. The activity might be fully illegal -- but an intelligence service might not care about that -- just about having something to hold over a potential asset.
As I understand it -- the idea is that Qwest said no to implementing tapping in their NOCs, and that the investigation/charges of fraud/pump'n'dump etc were filed afterwards.
Obviously, the USA is impossible. I'd suspect that the five Anglosphere nation secret police alliance countries are bad places, too ('Five Eyes': gb, oz, ca, us, nz). That leaves a lot of world to consider.
Is Ireland better? It's the only first world English-speaking nation that retains some suspicion and independence toward the Washington Empire, but only because of the ugly history with Britain.
Japan and Korea seem like bad choices because they're so close to and dependent on US military operations. Hong Kong and Singapore are subject to police state rules but usually operate extremely liberally; I wonder how it would go in those cities for a private communication service.
Germany is making noise about resenting Anglosphere spying, and you could use an affordable Hetzner server. Looks more and more like that resentment is feigned and German secret police are probably learning Stasi tactics from the NSA.
What do people think about Iceland or Switzerland. Is there anyplace in the FUSSR to consider? What other country would you nominate?
Edit: How about Chile? There's a first world nation that welcomes net startups and has good reason to cooperate very little with the US secret police. After all, the current government is made up of moderate lefties that survived the CIA coup and political murder spree in the 1970s and 1980s.
There is an understandable fear that a large bureaucracy is simply going to go through with whatever they think 'is the law' no matter how many people state their request. This isn't some irrational fear out of the blue, people see it happening in their daily lives on much less threating topics and history has seen it happen on an existential level. Not everybody is important enough to be granted temporary asylum by some adversary of the 'Big Satan' and some of us life in countries that have already handed over their own citizens to some of its torture facilities without asking questions.
Simply encouraging people to say things out loud when the system has already spun out of control so much is endangering them. We should rather educate people on forms of protest which are not going to be subdued so easily.
I'd like to see a little more public noise before we get to the point where the government can have everyone who's publicly backed a certain viewpoint summarily executed, though. If you're too afraid of that endpoint, you end up actually helping to bring it about. We can provide enough background struggle that it never comes within the government's power to remove it all.
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. " A .Einstein
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." M.L King
"So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. "
In Soviet Russia first they went after people at night, without shoes so no noise was heard. It only became easier after that.
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A long time ago, when I was in high school, the FBI dropped by my house to ask some questions about things involving computers and phone lines. When they arrived, the friend who happened to be with me was very smart, very mouthy, and always up for an argument. I'd never seen him back down. He started giving the FBI agent static, and the agent shut him down in about 5 seconds. My friend sat quietly on the porch steps for the rest of the encounter.
In this case, the "'trouble'" is substantial, and most of the people who are forbidden to speak are leading the comfortable life of middle-class professionals. It's not shocking to me that most people aren't willing to throw that away. Especially since the people making the threats will surely talk up how many lives are being saved. And, frankly, because until recently it looked like the public didn't give a damn anyhow.
I'm not sure there's any justification for ruining lives. Note, I don't believe in the death-penalty. I think it's unfortunate that we ruin lives with excessive jail-time and almost permanent criminal records. I think society would be better served by always giving people a challenging recovery path. A way to clear criminal record, at least from employers' background checks. Excessive jail-time, since it pretty much ruins a life, should only be used in the most extreme cases - maybe only if the crime ruined someone else's life.... maybe...
Excuse me, which amount of mental and physical torture is "not excessive"? I may understand keeping beasts in the cages (crazy murderers and the like), but 99% of the laws are not about beasts, it's about compliance with whatever "rules for benefit of society". Be it anti-drug rules, anti-pron rules, anti-gay, anti-blacks, anti-foreigners, anti-rich or anything else. And of course, you have to fork over money to IRS for sponsoring this mafia.
Does it fix anything and not ruining one's life if a person refuses to give to IRS and being held under a gun as a prisoner for even 1 second? Would any of your friends do that to you, or you - to them if does not "pay taxes"? I highly doubt that. We all are being brainwashed to believe that violence is "for our own good" and "without it, it would be much worse". It's a religious nonsense of 13th century. "Without religion there's no morality."
I think it's easy to imagine you would speak out when you don't have access to anything secret - but when it's you and your family that will be put at risk I can understand the disincentives looming large.
It is easier (although still monumentally difficult, of course) to take a stand when you are not taking down an innocent wife and children with you, who you might never see again.
In other words, the number of people who have access to material showing wrongdoing of any sort is likely a tiny fraction of those 1.4 million.
Having power over other people can corrupt any human being and s/he may start to actually like it.
"On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake's order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled... NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws though eventually her case became bogged down in the state courts.Parks' act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. "
I admire Rosa Parks immensely; her action was the spark that lit a great fire. But there were plenty of sparks before her that made no immediate difference.
The typical response is that they are a business, they have shareholders to report to etc. but these guys have much more clout, money and media influence to fight this kind of thing.
Still, yeah, I think (hope) you're right. Another indication of this is what we know of what they recommend US Government/Military do wrt. encryption/information security ...
Otherwise we become too susceptible to propaganda (on one side) and mistaken outrage (on the other).
if that's what you remember then i think you misunderstood that thread. what i took from there was:
- there is no good, clean, technical solution for encrypted webmail (and people have been saying this for ages)
- the final security guarantees for encrypted webmail depend on the operator
- lavabit's operator held up their side of the bargain and refused to cooperate when they felt it was wrong to do so.
so lavabit's operator's conscience was all that stood between the users and the nsa. that's how it has to be from a technical viewpoint. and people with technical smarts understood that (unfortunately, not everyone did). so it's to the credit of this guy that he took the stand he did.
when he was the last line of defense, he held his ground. respect. much respect.
(and i upvoted you just because i find it frustrating that downvoted comments get greyed out so no-one can see what is being discussed)
To be fair, the article is from 3 days ago. More likely someone just posted the link on HN. Also, it's not the guys fault is NBC News are a little slow in reporting a story...
Do you care to cite specific examples of how Lavabit's founder should not be trusted?
I was referring to this part of the comment, nothing else.