Over the past several weeks since the initial exposure of the NSA spying scandals, we have been exposed to yet more scandals, one after another in a constant flow of depressing news that even George Orwell could never dream up. We've heard of the FBI using spy drones on U.S. soil, PRISM, Boundless Informant, and the worst one yet, X-Keyscore, just to name a few of the untold many. But then today, the world truly came crashing down.
Over a year ago, troubled by the news of the rubber-stamp FISA secret courts using the PATRIOT Act to gain unfettered access to anything they want, and force unconstitutional gag orders on service providers to forbid them from ever speaking of any forced participation, we began looking for alternatives to Google Mail. (Yes, unfortunately, due to the unfathomably high level of spam we receive, we use Google Mail to handle our email service.) We finally came to the conclusion that, while Google itself is not inherently evil and does try to fight for civil and privacy rights, it is ultimately powerless to the U.S. government's will. Even though we really do have absolutely nothing to hide (HackThisSite and its staff does not and will never participate in illegal activities), we value our privacy over giving the government wanton open access.
We considered Lavabit, due to how it stores mail in such an encrypted fashion that not even its admins can gain access. (And no, Hushmail was never an option.) However, Lavabit's limited resources made us uncomfortable with relying on them, and we eventually walked away from the idea. Good thing, too.
This is incredibly haunting and hits close to home because, in these past few weeks of NSA leaks, we have reconsidered approaching Lavabit about using their services after all. And now they're gone.
So this is what defeat truly feels like, we suppose. When your only options are to either "go dark" (as the FBI calls it) and remove the government's ability to freely spy on your every communication, or allow for that unfettered spying with absolutely no recourse, and even your encrypted communications can be intercepted, what kind of age do we live in now? We cannot even protect our own privacy rights without fear of being labeled as terrorists.
Perhaps this is the truest and most real-world definition of tyranny.
We also wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Lavabit over the trials and tribulations they are currently being put through, and we also wish thank them profusely for sticking to their morals over caving in to government pressure. The level of ethics they have displayed, while those may have seriously pissed off their customers, is ultimately the best and most righteous path they could have chosen. The true heroes in this world are the ones who become the David against a Goliath, fearlessly refusing to back down. Godspeed, Lavabit, you are an inspiration.
Lavabit has a defense fund and we strongly encourage our users to donate to it.