I just contributed a few dollars to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund. As you may know, Lavabit was one of the last secure email services anywhere that the common man could use. As it turned out, Snowden used them and so they ended up on some national security shitlist. I quote the owner:
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. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. 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.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
It turns out that I am among one of the hundreds of thousands of people who trusted Lavabit and its owner, and as flaky as any individual can be, it's within my ordinary powers of perception to tell if I can trust them or not. In other words, it's easier for me to trust a person than an institution - institutions are pretty good at camoflaging their failure. Humans who fail are easier to spot. And sometimes, they're completely honest about it, as we are fortunate to see in the case of Ladar Levison.
Now, like a rich man, I recognize that through the greed and idiocy of others, I have a lot to lose. So I'm starting to overthink which people I should trust. I'm starting to tell those people about ways to get out of this deilemma. I starting to ask those people what they know. It's all getting chummy and clubby and less and less public - those people we can afford to have in our confidence. I am determined to have my way because I trust myself and my associates more than I trust those sworn to uphold ridiculous regulations. And if I have to hide away from the public in order to get my way, that's how it may have to be. That's what it's like to live when you recognize that entropy is a very big enemy. I'm feeling fragile.
So I think the safest place to be is in the woods, on my private property, with my closest friends, my guns and nothing electronic. Hmm.