Lavabit goes head to head with feds in contempt-of-court case

In oral arguments heard on Tuesday, Lavabit and federal prosecutors each presented their cases in front of three judges from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. This particular case is an appeal of contempt-of-court charges against Lavabit, a now-defunct e-mail hosting service that once offered secure communication.

In the summer of 2013, Lavabit was ordered to provide real-time e-mail monitoring of one of its users, widely believed to be Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned-leaker. When Lavabit told the feds that the only way it could hand over communications was through an internal process that would deliver results 60 days after anycommunication was sent, the authorities returned with a search warrant for Lavabit’s SSL keys, which could decrypt the traffic of all of Lavabit’s users. Ladar Levinson, the CEO of Lavabit, handed over the SSL keys but then shut down his 10-year-old business rather than expose all of Lavabit’s users. Levinson now faces charges of contempt-of-court.

The case is proving to be difficult for both parties, as well as presiding judges Roger Gregory, Paul Niemeyer, and Steven Agee, to parse. As PC World reports: “Attorneys from both Lavabit and the US government agreed that the legal issues between them could have been resolved before heading to court, though neither party seemed to have an adequate technical answer of how Lavabit could have successfully passed unencrypted data to a law enforcement agency in order to meet the government’s demands.”

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via Ars Technica http://ift.tt/1b3d2Dh

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