“They’re going to keep coming after us,” Ladar Levison, creator of an encrypted email service used by Edward Snowden, said at Defcon on Friday
The creator of an ultra-secure email service once said to be used by Edward Snowden unveiled his next project at a major hacker conference Friday: he and others like him want to change the very nature of email forever.
Ladar Levison, creator of the Lavabit encrypted email provider, was forced in August of last year to give investigators access to an account reportedly used by Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, after a tug-of-war with federal authorities. But rather than compromise the privacy of his other 400,000-plus email users, Levison says, he shut the entire project down. A similar encrypted email provider, Silent Circle, took heed and shuttered its own service to pre-empt any federal authorities that might come demanding information from it as well.
Out of those ashes, Levison and others launched the Dark Mail project, which is developing Dime, a set of new email protocols its creators hope will revolutionize the way the world communicates online.
“If I sound a little bit upset, it’s because I am,” Levison told a packed ballroom Friday at Defcon, a top hacker conference held annually in Las Vegas.
“I’m not upset that I got railroaded and I had to shut down my business,” said Levison. “I’m upset because we need a Mil-Spec [military grade] cryptographic mail system for the entire planet just to be able to talk to our friends and family without any kind of fear of government surveillance.”
Levison devoted much of his talk to arguing there’s a need for a secure emailing system in a world where government entities like the NSA have broad legal authority — and even broader technical capabilities — to conduct surveillance en masse, both in the U.S. and abroad. “With the type of metadata collection that’s going on today, we have guilt by association,” he said. “Imagine being put on a no-fly list because you happen to sit next to a criminal at a convention like this.”
Jon Callas, chief technology officer of Silent Circle and a co-founder of the Dark Mail project, told TIME that “the biggest problem we have today with email is that it was designed in the early 1970s and it was not designed for the problems we have today. Even the standard email encryption that we have today protects the content but not the metadata.”
Metadata — information like the identity of the sender or the time and date a message was sent — has been a key target of NSA surveillance. “Ironically, we have been protecting the stuff that they’re not collecting,” Callas said.
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SOURCE: Time Magazine – Denver Nicks