You're invited to join CNET at our headquarters in downtown San Francisco tonight to meet Ladar Levison, who created the Lavabit e-mail service that's now at the center of a high-profile lawsuit over government surveillance and Americans' privacy rights. Please RSVP if you're able to come.
Levison, who pulled the plug on Lavabit to avoid becoming "complicit in crimes against the American people," has graciously agreed to join us to talk about his lawsuit pitting him against the US government. Lavabit's e-mail services were used by Edward Snowden, the source of leaks that have bedeviled the National Security Agency for nearly five months.
We're hosting the event with the Electronic Frontier Foundation; EFF senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl will be participating as well. Opsahl is one of the attorneys litigating the separate Jewel v. NSA case -- a five-year effort to end the intelligence agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans. A federal judge recently ruled the lawsuit could continue.
Documents leaked by Snowden include descriptions of how the NSA has weakened encryption standards, how it has created a "secret backdoor" so phone calls and e-mail message content could be reviewed without a warrant, and how it has worked closely with telecommunication providers such as AT&T and Verizon to tap fiber links. That's led to what's being delicately called "diplomatic fallout," legislative reform efforts, and a rally last Saturday in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C.
In addition, I reported over the summer (I'm on sabbatical right now) about techniques the US government uses to coerce Internet companies into cooperating with surveillance demands, government requests for confidential user passwords, and attempts to obtain master SSL encryption keys. We found out earlier this month that the last approach -- demanding Lavabit's SSL keys -- is what the US government wants from Levison.
For our event in San Francisco tonight, which is free and open to the public, doors open at 6 p.m. PT, and drinks and appetizers will be provided. Here are the details:
CNET HQ (CBS Interactive)
235 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Monday, October 28
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
(Three blocks from Montgomery Street BART station, eight blocks from Caltrain)
Please remember to RSVP through Eventbrite.com if you're planning to come.