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Another e-mail service shuts down over government spying concerns

• Timothy B. Lee, Washington Post
A prominent supplier of secure communications services has decided to shutter its e-mail service to avoid having to turn over confidential customer information to the government. The move comes hours after another e-mail service provider called Lavabit made the same decision in order to avoid becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people” — likely a reference to government surveillance.

Silent Circle offers a suite of secure communications tools, including e-mail, chat, and voice calling to customers in 126 countries. The chat and voice services employ “end-to-end” encryption, which means that the company itself does not have the capability to unscramble customers’ communications and turn them over to the government. But e-mail services need to interoperate with other e-mail providers. That makes end-to-end encryption impractical and creates a danger that the company could be compelled to hand over information to the government.

 

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