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tv   Cross Talk  RT  November 8, 2013 9:29am-10:01am EST

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choose the stories get in. choose be. true. to welcome to sophia and go on sophie shevardnadze our guest today calls himself a strict constitutionalist his business suffered in the wake of the n.s.a. leaks scandal why because the service to provide it was believed to have been in use by the person most wanted by the united states at snowden these are the carers who are in the privacy and the trust of his clients. forced to make a difficult decision which put an end to ten years of hard work. the
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owner of love a bit has just one goal to defend the american constitution but now his freedom is at risk who will win the legal fight the government wants the keys to privacy for the man who sees himself as the brave holder. our gas is loved our levison founder owner and operator of flaubert in credit mail service that will good morning to you but good evening from us it's great to have you on the show today so your service was barely known before the scandal with edward snowden do you appreciate public attention now that it allows you to put some of your ideas forward or would you rather never have to deal with it. i think i would have rather rather never had to deal with this you know i was quite happy running you know
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a small business we were successful enough that we didn't have to worry worry about survivability anymore. my primary concern. at the beginning of this summer was you know upgrading systems modernizing our servers. deploying a new version of our daemon you know the problems that a business like mine would normally face and now all of the work that i've put into my system over the last ten years is for not. the only thing i can hope is that something positive will come out of out of all of this but like you said your business is smallest so for those who may not know it yet in simple words what is lavabit. we were a email service that was focused on privacy and security and we tended to cater towards heavy e-mail users we were one of the first services to
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offer pop back sess one of the first services to offer i map access and by that i mean free pop and free i'm at bax s. we never had a very strong webmail offering so we really cater to people who like to do email on their desktop with an application like thunderbird or outlook. it's widely known that this storage is we're looking for snowden c. mail in lavabit that did you have any contact with your client before or after the case started. why didn't have any contact with them after the case started that would have been illegal. but what was before. i believe i did send him one email several years back as the result of a support inquiry. do you actually like i've course did not know him personally but
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right now because snowden's name is so huge huge like the fact that your name is linked with snowden story. i don't dislike it honestly i don't really have an opinion on that. you know it is what it is we neither of us can do anything about it we're just reacting to the world around us let out it could you ever have imagined that ten years of your work would be ruined once you would refuse to cooperate with the fads no i didn't think it would ever come to something like this. you know i thought if there was any country in the world that a free and secure and private email service could operate without interference from the government it would be the united states. and i was of course sorely disappointed when i started interacting with federal agents and started listening to what they wanted to do now you chose to shutdown level not to compromise your
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customer's data how saves it now from governments getting its hands on it well i mean it's as safe now as it was when the company was operating. you know users who had encrypted storage you know their data can't be accessed without their password. and of course most of our free users didn't have that. you know if the if the feds came along and demanded the data on a specific count there's nothing i can do but turn over the data for that specific account. the issue that i had was what the government wanted to do was monitor everyone on the system nothing it wasn't designed it wasn't just didn't they wanted everyone's data they wanted access to everyone's information yeah and that was the problem i had but why did they ever explain themselves i mean it's
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obvious why they would want snowden's information you know he's in hiding but why would they want to access to every what is information because that was the only way they could get access to the accounts that were under investigation was by demanding the s.s.l. keys. unwrapping mean crippin that was protecting all of the connections coming into the system and inferi isolating out the ones of interest but what was interesting about this whole process was that they were completely unwilling to provide any transparency back to me they were completely unwilling to prove that they were only going to be collecting information on a handful of accounts so all i'm left to do is assume that what they really wanted to do was collect information on everyone's accounts but what exactly did they tell you. they told me that they would be collecting mated data content
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passwords and then the other information of interest to their investigation so because i was going to ask it wasn't it easier to just give access to one account instead of shutting down the whole thing but now i'm realizing they wanted the whole thing right. that's precisely the problem if they had been able to tailor their requests to a specific account i wouldn't have had a problem with it the issue is the way my system was designed i couldn't access the account that they wanted to access so they decided to break open the entire system and compromise the security just so that they could access in theory a handful of accounts so are you saying that even if you want it to hand down snowden's account information you couldn't because you couldn't access it yourself anymore that was the way the system was designed. but once the data was
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on the server it was secured with the user's password so then that it it means that you really had nothing to offer right that's what i thought and i didn't have anything to offer on the accounts that were under investigation so what they decided to do was demand these s.s.l. private keys which belong to my business and not the user and use them to decrypt all of the information coming in and out of my network regardless of who it belonged to to give them the keys i was forced to but i also shut down my business when i was forced to do that so there is no way they could actually access the accounts even if they have the keys right now. in theory that's correct what we don't know was whether or not they were recording the encrypted information that was coming in and out of the network before i shut down if that
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was the case then they could have gone back and retroactively access that information once they had the keys now with the shaft down of lavabit did you warn your customers did they have a chance to do something about their accounts or have they basically lost any control or wherever they had. unfortunately i couldn't warn them i couldn't tell anybody that i intended to shutdown the service i was afraid that if i did that if i even did so much as threaten to shut down the service. i would be issued an order requiring me to keep it open and once i receive such an order i would have to either keep the service open or face an open and shut obstruction of justice charge so i had to be very secretive about it now in terms of users i know that many of them were left stranded when the service shut down because all of their messages in some cases for several years had been stored on the server so
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what i did very recently was resurrect a small download site so that users can now go back and pull down a zip archive of all the messages that may have been on the server when it shut down. did anyone from your customers try to contact. yes several customers tried to contact me both before i shutdown and directly afterwards. you know i was speaking to john mcafee recently and he told me that if he were google he would do exactly the same thing do you blame google and others for selling out what would you do. i think google has of. they have shareholders to answer to they have a board of directors to answer to and they've got hundreds of millions of customers shutting down their service would take a lot more than simply the decision of one or two people and unfortunately i don't
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think they could build the necessary consensus. to shut down their service. one of the decisions i made very early on in my business was not to go out and seek venture capital i didn't want to have to give up a controlling interest in the company because i didn't want somebody else to come in and decide that i should sacrifice the philosophy of the company in order to make a profit and it was because i had made that decision and decided to grow the business the hard way to grow it organically that when the time came i was able to make the decision to shut down. i mean my guess is no but i got asked do you trust your personal information to encrypted services any of them. i don't trust my personal information to encrypted services if i don't have to let alone unencrypted ones all right after
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a short break we'll be back with our leveson owner of lavabit to talk about the way contrast and that's privacy have a future stay with us. it's simply for so i only goal in life was nothing more than making money as quickly as possible with what we got to offer the kids. so it would mornings wake up no one to sleep. but it's not a kindergarden or an orphanage it's a host where you live with your family your children five children and you can be
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a father to seventy children just like i'll be a husband to twelve mothers. why are you all shouting i wasn't ready it's like if a man proposes to end yes or oh whoa i need time to think so when she called me mom i needed time to think with that well i think. you could say mom is important person in your life and yes they told me much here is stories about what their lives were like about their trunk mothers fleeing home and living on the streets they've let me into their world and it became easier for them to comb. if you. know opportunity. start to construct your. olympian bit. don't want to be gangstas in a lot of. dog they don't want that bull with all the time that the kid came to be
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we can see. you just made some progress i was in my own problems in the hood. but it felt like. i said. i don't want to die i just really do not want to die young young age. you got a lot of sneering and negative press for your engagements here in russia especially for your public appearances with food and even though they weren't explicitly political they were just supporting sports one of the scenes that certain people's regime has become very adept at is controlling the media for example right here c.n.n. do i think c.n.n. is you know completely telling it like it is no i think we have an agenda i think through is is bought and paid for.
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looked right on the scene. of the first trip to italy and i think picture. on our reporters twitter. and instagram. posts. to me in the old little odd. welcome back to the show our guest is leather levison founder and owner of love
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a beetle is fighting for his business and he's believes in courts great to have you back now your know what's on the shutdown website reads defending the constitution is expensive well you know it's kind of ironic that you fight a case for justice in a country that prides itself over its justice system. there is a great deal of irony here you have to remember that the people on the other side of the aisle in the courtroom from me all swore an oath to uphold the constitution and yet here i am trying to remind them of their own duties. but where you get your court case right now. we've filed the opening brief in our appeal and we're currently awaiting the government response which we expect to come in about a week. now you have set up an encrypted service it's now suspended and you have to face the legal system is that whatever it's every encrypted system in the country
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is this a war on privacy. yes that's precisely what it is and it's not necessarily a war on privacy it's a war between security and privacy it's a war between law enforcement agencies who have a need to conduct surveillance in an effort to stop and catch criminals against an industry that is trying to make secure products products that protect people's private information from criminals so do you feel like all encrypted services will be shut down. no i don't think all of them will be shut down. but i think a number of them have faced and will continue to face the same type of pressure that my company faced and it's
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a question of who in our country is willing to sacrifice their business rather than compromise it's principles. it's it's kind of a disturbing issue because this entire battle over which companies are being forced to do what and precisely what they're being forced to do is taking place in secret so we don't even know as a society what companies have been asked and whether or not they've been able to stave off the demands of the government in court nodar do you feel threatened because hey you are wrestling with the big guys. i definitely felt threatened when i was in the midst of trying to prevent them from getting a hold of my assets sell keys i was threatened with arrest i had to go to extremes
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i have a small dog that lives with me i had to send her over to a friend's house because i was afraid they would break down my door and arrest me and there would be nobody to take care of or you know i was losing sleep at night it was certainly a very stressful position to be in i think the issue is changed a little bit at this point i no longer have a running service so i'm no longer of interest to the government and i'm coupled with the fact that all of the media attention has given me a certain measure of protection as well how well i have two questions first of all you don't fear anymore to be arrested right from what i understand. not at the moment as long as i don't do something incredibly stupid and as far as did media attention goes do you feel like you got enough coverage in the mainstream media. are i think the issue of privacy the
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issue of surveillance hasn't gotten enough coverage in the mainstream media i think the majority of americans don't know what's going on don't understand the significance of what's come out this summer i don't think it necessarily. they need to hear about me and my story because love of it is one small piece of a much larger puzzle but what i do think that mainstream america needs to hear about and then her stand is just to what lengths our government is going to conduct surveillance just how much information they're actually collecting and storing in some cases for years you know these are very significant problems these are the types of issues that can do a democracy like ours and i just hope that some of the information that's come out
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this summer will prompt the necessary changes to prevent that from happening but it's kind of crazy because they remember living in america during nine eleven and i remember drastically elavil americans becoming before and after because everything was about security being scanned being you know listen to tap but they were ok with it then because it was a terrorist act so one would think that after the n.s.a. leaks there would be a before and after as well but from what you're saying not much has changed in a level than the average american after these leaks. yeah to my knowledge nothing has changed it's still business as usual at the f.b.i. and the n.s.a. . i heard in one of your lectures you said that the government officers that you had to deal with were offended by your distrust towards them so you described them as people fully confident in a trust of american people but what if they are right and they do have the trust of
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most americans. so few what i think is very important to remember is that our founding fathers realized that even if we trust the people in power now we shouldn't be forced to trust the people in power tomorrow. our system of government was designed specifically so that we wouldn't have to trust our government. that our government would govern with the consent of the people how can we as a people consent to activities that we don't know about that's why the issue of transparency and the issue of secrecy is so important it would be a very different story if we knew this type of surveillance was going on and we as a society decided to accept it but we haven't in fact we've done the exact
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opposite every time the issue has come up we've decided as a country that it's far more important. for us to have privacy in and our freedom to associate than it is for our government to conduct surveillance and as a result what's happened is law enforcement and the national security agency has gone behind our collective backs and tried to accomplish this using the courts in secret and that's truly what the issue is they've broken whatever trust and violated whatever trust we may have had and that's the real issue and they're going to have to earn that back the hard way now let our i know that you are collecting money how much money have you managed to get at this point for your legal case and is this money enough or do you have to raise more. we raised over
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two hundred fifty thousand dollars for the fight and we've spent a pretty good portion of that at least well over one hundred thousand dollars on it . just on this first round of appeals. so the real question is how far will we have to take this fight if we have to end up going to the supreme court and i truly think that we will then we certainly will have to raise more money how much more money are we talking about while my legal team tells me that a supreme court case typically costs between two hundred fifty and five hundred thousand dollars to litigate do you know the people who are or who gave the money to this cause. i know a handful of them but most of the donations have been small between five ten
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and twenty five dollars we're literally talking tens of thousands of people have stepped up and donated whatever they could. not because they know me personally not because they feel sorry about my business for at least some of them do but but because they believe in what i'm fighting for and they realize just how important it is and they want to make sure that my team has the resources it needs to win this is one of those battles that just too important to give up on and dare i say too important to lose now here's a question that i picked up from online why don't you use bitcoin for fundraising. you know that's been suggested. i just didn't use bitcoin before i shut down so i haven't really gone through the process of setting up a bit coin wallet. and and going through that process but
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i think it's an excellent idea and you know if i were to shut down my service again i probably would have posted a big point link are you planning to resume the work in the internet after the case is closed. if i'm victorious i plan to resume the love of it service and continue working in information technology if i lose i will probably turn the business over to somebody who lives in a country that still respects freedom and privacy and wash my hands of it maybe try and become a farmer or an actor such to a business that doesn't involve computers and technology do you have any countries in mind. yeah my legal team looked into moving the system to iceland or switzerland or even the bahamas we decided against it in the end because if i wanted to continue running the service
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as an american i could still be subject to u.s. jurisdiction and i could end up being put in a very difficult position of having to choose between breaking u.s. law and breaking the laws of the country where the system was hosted so i felt in that situation the best thing i could do would be to keep the service shut down and open source the code because if there can't be a lot of a bit hopefully there can be a hundred love a bit like services for people to choose from. thank you very much hopefully you will only say you don't have to turn to acting or farming and just stick to something that you love doing that you're very good at that's it for today said expects but watching that was louder levison founder and owner of love of a tent will see on the next edition of sophie and co.
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few u.s. presidents are looking to a second term in office leave the white house successful or even popular bronc obama is the case in point his poll numbers are low his legislative agenda is in deep trouble and washington's friends and foes around the world do not take him seriously is obama already a lame duck president. wealthy british soil. is no doubt. the right. markets finance scandal find out what's really happening to the global economy for a no holds barred look at the global financial headlines tuning in to cause
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a report on our team. this. month i want to. pick up something that is quite simply a mess. ways was no way oh. clearly they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. and sold to the u.s. or turned over to the u.s. for about the soul that could be buried alive. was saved with great ever. and they want to turn me into a terrorist so it is they wanted me to admit that i was a member of al qaeda and the taliban and that i fought with them. not a bad time i didn't even know what al qaeda is nevertheless there are people all. brave enough to start a fight. something's going to be done it's going to be done by me and it's been
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have a short amount of time to do it but it's going to impact me i'd be prosecuted but it's going to impact. a wife my daughter. the one time a trapped monarchy. exactly what happened there i don't know but a woman got killed. piers leaders are i got arrested for. for a crime i did not do. we have numerous cases where police officers lie about polygraph results. innocent people take interest the police officers don't beat people anymore i mean it just doesn't happen really. in the course of interrogation why because there's been this is like meant no because the site. trickle techniques are more effective in obtaining confessions than physical abuse and they were off the table they could get what they wanted they can say what they wanted and there was no evidence of what they did or what they said.
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i turned towards the true story bridge on a car exploded my neighbor admitted killing me was a direct order whew see to me that has a number of downs from terror attacks in iraq stares towards new tragic records are to document the surge in civilian casualties with an in-depth database on the growing terror. what we're looking at now our desk specifically from terror attacks this year all and the figures while the figures speak for themselves how hard it has not been you don't know. where the spine achiness can down whistleblowing at a parliamentary committee hearing on mass surveillance that rights groups say avoided all the tough questions. and britain has declared a global hub of financial secrecy as banks responsible for hiding.


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