The Lavabit Shutdown and its Implications for American Liberty

Ladar Levison 2013 Flickr Gage Skidmore

Ladar Levison is not impressed with the FBI. Flickr photo by Gage Skidmore

Contributor Samuel Mantravadi believes that the FBI has overreached in its latest attempt at using technology to track down a potential criminal.

Ladar Levison is somewhat of a hero these days in software and technology news circles. If you’re not not up on the latest gossip, Mr. Levison is the founder, developer and CEO of a company called Lavabit that provides provided secure e-mail services via encryption 1) to and from its servers and 2) while on its servers (two separate methods of encryption).

In the wake of a series of secret subpoenas and search warrants given by the FBI, Mr. Levison has chosen to shutter his services rather than fully comply with the order. In the wake of the e-mail shuttering, another award-winning blog, Groklaw, also chose to stop reporting due to the possible massive invasion of privacy (previous articles still available). Continue reading

A Bad Week to be Bo

Double Bo

Photos from Voice of America and the White House

While most of the news these days seems to be an endless train of unrelated tittle tattle, every so often two stories coincide in a way that sheds new light on our society.  More to the point, it allows a writer such as myself to take two apparently unrelated issues and smoosh them together because they both involve someone, or something, named Bo.

Upon waking up this morning, I was greeted with the news that the trial for disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, former mayor of the city of Chongquing and prominent voice within the Chinese Communist Party, had begun.  He stands accused of bribery, corruption, and abuse of power, the latter charge stemming from his alleged involvement in covering up the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, whom Bo’s wife has already been convicted of murdering. Continue reading

An Overlooked Fact about the Zimmerman Case

Zimmerman,_George_-_Seminole_County_Mug

From the beginning, the media wanted to make the Zimmerman case about black vs. white.  That is why the story gained national attention in the first place.  I’m not going to make a judgment about whether race played a factor in what happened that night, and I realize how complex and personal individuals’ feelings about race can be.  Be that as it may, I have always been struck by the fact that Zimmerman did not “look” particularly “white”.  His surname is German, but beyond that I didn’t actually know anything  about his heritage until I saw the picture of his parents in the courtroom: a white father and an apparently Asian mother.  Does the narrative change at all because George Zimmerman is actually biracial?  Should it?  It’s a question that I’ve never heard anyone in the media bother to ask, though I admittedly have not listened to all of the endless hours of coverage. (I have better things to do with my time.) What I do know is that it says as much as anything about our racial attitudes that we define him only by his white father and not his Asian mother.  Were this portrayed in the media as an incident involving two minorities instead of black vs. white, for example, I am willing to bet that the debate would have been much different.