Whether Secure Email Services Shut Down or Not, the NSA Still Wins

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Now two secure email services have decided to shut down their operations rather than work with the federal government — presumably National Security Administration data collection, as Silent Circle joined Lavabit in its stand against domestic snooping. Unlike Lavabit, Silent Circle hadn't received any government requests — yet. But it saw Lavabit's farewell message as "writing on the wall" possibly because of the heads of state that use Silent Circle. "And we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now," the company wrote in a post on its site. Edward Snowden, who used Lavabit for his electronic communication method of choice, called Lavabit's move "inspiring," but, really, this just shows that the NSA is winning.

If other secure email services shut down, than the NSA has pushed the hundreds of thousands of users to the popular email services that already participate in surveillance through PRISM and programs like it. The only option for the remaining secure email companies is to cut off physical ties with America. It doesn't sound like either Lavabit of Silent Circle have plans to reopen elsewhere. If they did, that's another kind of failure, Snowden told The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald. "America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison [Lavabit owner] have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful." 

For now, the users will have to go to one of the remaining super-encrypted services, like Hushmail, and wait until the NSA requests access to those servers. Or just give in and use Gmail or Outlook. Either way the NSA gets its surveillance. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.