The Guardian reports: The Obama administration has created a surveillance state on a scale not seen since senator Joe McCarthy’s infamous 1950s crackdown on suspected communists, according to the tech executive caught up in crossfire between the NSA and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“We are entering a time of state-sponsored intrusion into our privacy that we haven’t seen since the McCarthy era. And it’s on a much broader scale,” Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit, told the Guardian. The email service was used by Snowden and is now at the center of a potentially historic legal battle over privacy rights in the digital age.
Levison closed down his service this month, posting a message about a government investigation that would force him to “become complicit in crimes against the American people” were he to stay in business. The 32-year-old is now stuck in a Kafkaesque universe where he is not allowed to talk about what is going on, nor is he allowed to talk about what he’s not allowed to talk about without facing charges of contempt of court.
It appears that Levison – who would not confirm this – has received a national security letter (NSL), a legal attempt to force him to hand over any and all data his company has so that the US authorities can track Snowden and anyone he communicated with. The fact that he closed the service rather than comply may well have opened him up to other legal challenges – about which he also can not comment.
What he will say is that he is locked in a legal battle he hopes one day will finally make it clear what the US government can and can not legally demand from companies. “The information technology sector of our country deserves a legislative mandate that will allow us to provide private and secure services so our customers, both here and abroad, don’t feel they are being used as listening posts for an American surveillance network,” he says. [Continue reading…]