Wednesday, October 2, 2013

UNSEALED How The Lavabit Email Service "Complied" With a Warrant

The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden’s e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.

The eventual manner in which Lavabit complied was this way:
In an interesting work-around, Levison complied the next day by turning over the private SSL keys as an 11 page printout in 4-point type. The government, not unreasonably, called the printout “illegible.”
“To make use of these keys, the FBI would have to manually input all 2,560 characters, and one incorrect keystroke in this laborious process would render the FBI collection system incapable of collecting decrypted data,” prosecutors wrote

The full story of Lavabit's shutdown rather than give access to the government is here.


  1. Or they could, you know, scan them at 600dpi use $200 optical character recognition software to convert them to text.

    But yeah, this is the FBI, so maybe not.

  2. This is how teensy mammals usurped the dinosaurs.

  3. While this snippet of the article is awesome, and hilarious, it's not the highlight of the Lavabit story.

    After the govt complained about the printouts, he was told he'd be fined $5000 per day until he gave them what he wanted. And this is why Lavabit shut down, 2 days later.

    An amazing story of someone with a lot to lose who stood up for everyone else.

    It doesn't say more, but I'm sure they could find some other way of prosecuting him over shutting down (it is the govt after all). To him it was more important to not allow them access to the email, and the only solid way of that was to not have any email for them to gather.

  4. And there was much rejoicing!