Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Government's Choice to Spy on Us is Now Damaging Our Tech Industry

The super secret, encrypted email service that Edward Snowden used to communicate with Glenn Greenwald has officially closed down, writes Xeni Jardin for BoingBoing.

Lavabit not only offered encrypted email, but their operators don't collect your metadata and sell it to advertising companies — an obvious plus for anyone looking to be ultra private. 
The implication is that they shut down because the U.S. government apparently served them with an order to either allow snooping, or shut down.
Obviously they decided to shut down. 
Concurrently, the Washington Post reports that American tech companies are losing tens of billions of dollars to overseas customers who don't want the NSA or FBI or CIA (take your pick) snooping on them. 
From the Washington Post: 
This leads ITIF to conclude the NSA leaks “will likely have an immediate and lasting impact on the competitiveness of the U.S. cloud computing industry if foreign customers decide the risks of storing data with a U.S. company outweigh the benefits.”
It's a sentiment echoed by the outgoing words of Lavabit's owner, Ladar Levison, in an open letter (note: Levison also wrote he could not legally share the course of events that lead to the letter):
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. 
Levison says he plans to head to the 4th circuit to challenge the orders in court.
In the meantime, expect to see the tech companies to continue battling to maintain their image, at home and, especially, abroad.