Tag Archives: lavabit

So I’ve put up a post everyday until last Saturday. True, sometimes I posted past midnight and often I put up nothing but a photo, but I did manage to have at least one post for everyday since the first of the year. It was a weird little commitment I made to myself.

I’m probably trying the patience of my readers here. The shutdown of Lavabit has created a bigger crisis in my life than I expected. Since I never store important documents, including emails, on other people’s hardware, I thought it would be as simple as getting a new email address and logging into various services like the one here on WordPress and updating that bit of information.

I should probably confess something here that I didn’t intend to get to for a very long time. About a year and a half ago, I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. A complicated set of circumstances brought it on and I didn’t want to discuss it outside of the context, but, for better or worse, it’s part of the context of what’s going on now and I can’t talk about my current situation without referencing it. The short version, is that I never wanted to get married or have children. I wanted to have a significant career of some sort. I failed. I’m going on fifty and I now realize I’ll never achieve the things I wanted to achieve. This has led me into a depression although I didn’t have a history of it. I did have a history of anxiety and I am a little bit quirky. So I take medication now, and at least I’m no longer thinking about suicide. But I’m still struggling with how to make a life for myself that I can actually enjoy more often than not. I was enjoying getting some of my opinions out there.

I just don’t like the things other people like. They don’t give me satisfaction. I wish I could go shopping and feel good. Hell, I wish I could believe in Jesus, enjoy watching teevee, enjoy sports, accept the fact that women are supposed to act as if their vagina is a non-renewable resource, think people look better photoshopped, worry about what celebrities are naming their babies, and all sorts of things that are just a blank for me. In short, I wish I could be just a little bit more like other people. Life would be easier for me. I wouldn’t have much to blog about, but that’s okay. Facebook is sufficient for most people.

I’m not ready to hand over my whole life to the owners of Google. I have a lot to say about many things, but I just wanted to maintain a modicum of privacy. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t using Lavabit for their encryption or security. I was using them simply because they weren’t tracking me and selling my information to advertisers.

So now I don’t know. If I can’t find another email provider that allows a little bit of privacy, I’m going to take a significant part of my life off-line. What will remain on line will be under my own name, but I won’t have any opinions that aren’t acceptable to the majority. I’ll have to cease speaking out about atheism, politics, sexuality and women’s issues.

I can’t even begin to explain to everyone the pain I’m going through right now. I feel a little bit crazy right now. Am I overreacting? Everyone else is seems so happy with Facebook. Why don’t I like it? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not like everybody else?

Well, for at least the past twenty-four hours, and probably more like forty-eight, I’ve been unable to access my email. I was hoping it would be simply a technical difficulty and from time to time I checked the website to see if it was backup. As time wore on, I was getting a sinking feeling. I had a hunch, and my hunch was right.

As luck would have it, I was sharing an email provider with Edward Snowden.

Earlier today, this screen went up:

lavabitFew people that I know through this blog use my normal email address at Lavabit. It will probably take me a few days to regroup. In the meantime, if anyone wants to get in touch with me, you’ll have to leave a message in the comments.

It’s especially a drag since I wasn’t even using for the secrecy and encryption or anything like that. I just didn’t feel like giving my entire life over to Google more or less on the principle of the matter. I guess resistance really is futile.

By the way, has anyone tried setting up their own email server?

Update: There’s some more information now from Forbes.

Texas-based Lavabit came into being in 2004 as an alternative to Google’s Gmail, as an email provider that wouldn’t scan users’ email for keywords. Being identified as the provider of choice for the country’s most famous NSA whistleblower led to a flurry of attention for Lavabit, from journalists. and also, apparently, from government investigators. Lavabit founder Ladar Levison announced today that he’s shutting the service down rather than providing information to the government.

Further down, Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill says:

Levison says that he’s under a gag order and thus can’t discuss the government request for information that he has been fighting over the last six weeks. Gag orders like that often come with information requests in national security investigations.

Hill’s assumption is the same as mine. Although her speculation that the government wants Snowden’s emails sounds like a good guess on the surface, it is still simply an assumption. Frankly, my own guess is that they wanted more than that. At this stage, there would be no reason to be secretive about wanting Snowden’s email. Of course, that’s just speculation on my part as well.

If Levison has been fighting this for six weeks as Hill reports, he could have let users know that there was a potential for a shutdown. As it is, he’s given users who don’t have any special reason to use encrypted or private email reason to distrust smaller providers.

Update II: Yet another reason to not completely trust cloud computing. I’ve been using the Thunderbird email client and storing most of my emails on my local computer hard drive. It could have been worse if I hadn’t been doing that.