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DOJ says Lavabit cannot prevent search warrants by 'locking its front gate'

SonicSpike (242293) writes | about 8 months ago

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SonicSpike (242293) writes "Even after obtaining the encryption keys from secure email provider Lavabit through a court, the government was prevented by the court order and various laws from accessing other Lavabit users' accounts, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday in a filing in an appeal by Lavabit.

The government said in the filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that the information it wanted from a single unnamed account was user log-in information and the date, time, and duration of the email transmissions, and dismissed Lavabit's "parade of hypotheticals" regarding unlawful actions the government could take. "Were a government officer to do as Lavabit fears and 'rummage' through other users' communications without authorization, that would be a crime," DOJ wrote.

Lavabit shut down in August citing an ongoing legal battle it was not allowed to discuss at the point. Founder Ladar Levison said he was shutting down the secure email service rather than become "complicit in crimes against the American people." The government is said to have been looking for email information of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who since June disclosed through newspapers certain documents about surveillance programs by the U.S. National Security Agency. The target user name has been redacted in the Lavabit records."

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