Lavabit Files Opening Brief In Landmark Privacy Case

Kevin Poulson | Wired | October 10, 2013

Secure email provider Lavabit just filed the opening brief in its appeal of a court order demanding it turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site.

The government proposed to examine and copy Lavabit’s most sensitive, closely guarded records–its private keys–despite the fact that those keys were not contraband, were not the fruits of any crime, were not used to commit any crime, and were not evidence of any crime. Rather, the government obtained a warrant to search and seize Lavabit’s property simply because it believed that the information would be helpful to know as it conducted its investigation of someone else.

As first reported by WIRED last week, the formerly secret July 16 order under appeal came after Texas-based Lavabit hesitated to circumvent its own security systems to comply with earlier orders intended to monitor a particular Lavabit user’s metadata, defined as “information about each communication sent or received by the account, including the date and time of the communication, the method of communication, and the source and destination of the communication.”