First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Friday, August 9, 2013

This is what self-censorship looks like

Two weeks ago, I explained how the NSA surveillance program threatens First Amendment rights, including the chilling of speech because of the fear of government surveillance. This week, two secure email providers shut down.  This morning, The Guardian revealed that, through a loophole in the law, the NSA can see your emails and listen to your phone calls without a warrant.  This afternoon, President Obama vowed to make changes to the NSA system. 

The part in the middle (about the secure email service providers shutting down) shows how this dramatic script evolves into a free speech snuff film., a provider used by leaker Edward Snowden, shut down its secure email service yesterday.  The founder, Ladar Levison, explained his dilemma:
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit ... I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests. ... I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
No more Lavabit means no more speech on Lavabit. 

So, why don't Lavabit's users just go somewhere else ... like Silent Circle, another secure email provider?  Oh, yeah, Silent Circle also announced its "preemptive" shut down this week:
Silent Circle has preemptively discontinued Silent Mail service to prevent spying.  ... the less of your information we have, the better it is for you and for us.  ... We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.
Another such provider, TorMail, is gone too.

I don't (I mean didn't) use any of these services, but I might like to.  I might like to think that maybe, just maybe, there is a way for me to communicate without warrantless spying by the NSA.  Sadly, I now have to catalog those wishes and hopes along with being a good basketball player and owning a Ferrari -- i.e., things that ain't too likely.

No comments:

Post a Comment