(updated 8/9 7pm EDT)
The Fable of The NSA and the Internet
Long ago and far away on the planet Earth, the people of the planet enjoyed the fruits of a global telecommunications network. But the Governments, which did not trust the people, secretly decided to collect all its information and use it to rule the people. When the people found out, they stopped using the Internet because they didn’t want the Governments intrusions and manipulations in every aspect of their lives. The planet fell silent, technological advancement was halted, and economic hardship gripped it’s people.
The Fable of the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs
Just as the lame-stream media has become dimly aware that all the snooping has real consequences in the real word… news is breaking of how some businesses are being forced to close as a result of the extent of NSA information gathering. There is likely to be a wave of such consequences, as the Federal Government may eventually discover they have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs: the Internet.
Real World Impacts:
Two Business Shutting Down Due to NSA Domestic Surveillance
Lavabit Out Of Business – Gagged and Bound by U.S. Govt
Texas-based Lavabit service has shut down but said that legal reasons are preventing it from explaining why. Lavabit appears to have been in a legal battle to stop U.S. agencies from obtaining customer details.
Silent Circle, a secure communications firm, has shut its email service because messages cannot be kept wholly secret, which was the basis of its appeal to customers.
Edward Snowden is rumored to have been using Lavabit while holed up in the Moscow airport.
Ladar Levison, Owner and Operator of Lavabit LLC wrote in an open letter that has replaced the company’s website at lavabit.com:
“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.”
Following that is a link requesting donations to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund via PayPal [PayPal was stopped by the U.S. Government from transferring donation funds to WikiLeaks in the U.S.’s quest to destroy WikiLeaks].
Silent Circle Shuts Down Secure Mail Service:
NSA Surveillance Makes Email Security Impossible
Silent Circle, a firm offering a variety of telecommunications products, states on its’ website: “Silent Circle has preemptively discontinued Silent Mail service to prevent spying.”
The announcement continues:
“We designed our phone, video, and text services (Silent Phone, Text and Eyes) to be completely end-to-end secure with all cryptography done on the clients and our exposure to your data to be nil. The reasons are obvious — the less of your information we have, the better it is for you and for us.
Silent Mail has thus always been something of a quandary for us. Email that uses standard Internet protocols cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has. There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the email protocols themselves. Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure.
And yet, many people wanted it. Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable.
However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Yesterday, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system less they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.”
The company plans to continue on with its’ non-email products.
“By injecting the N.S.A. into virtually every cross-border interaction, the U.S. government will forever alter what has always been an open exchange of ideas,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
By injecting itself into every electronic communication, the U.S. Government has forever altered the way we think about and use the forms of communication we have used and become dependent on for over a generation. With the Internet the main driver of economic growth, the U.S., in its greed to collect every shred of information on the ‘net, may have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.
See also: The Dog and the Bone – a fable wherein by greeding for all, one risks losing all.