Government pressure prompts secure e-mail closures

In light of the recent NSA spying revelations, one might feel compelled to switch to an encrypted e-mail service. That might be more difficult than it sounds, though. As the New York Times’ Bits blog reports, two secure e-mail providers based in the United States have shut down this week, and at least one of the closures looks like it was the result of pressure from the U.S. government.

The first service to shut down was Lavabit, which reportedly counted runaway whistleblower Edward Snowden among its users. Lavabit took its service offline on Thursday, and its website now shows only the following message, signed by owner and operator Ladar Levison:

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Although it doesn’t say so explicitly, Levison’s statement implies that Lavabit was asked to hand over e-mail data and was subject to a gag order. As the Times points out, U.S. law forbids the disclosure of FISA orders or national security letters. 50 USC § 1861 states, "No person shall disclose to any other person that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things pursuant to an order under this section." Exceptions are made only for attorneys involved in the case, people required to help comply with the order, and people cleared by the Director of the FBI or "the designee of the Director."

Following Lavabit’s closure, another security firm, Silent Circle, decided to shutter its secure e-mail service. A message on that company’s website reads in part, "Silent Circle has preemptively discontinued Silent Mail service to prevent spying." The message says Lavabit’s decision prompted the move. Speaking to the Times’ Bits blog, Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke added that his company took the unusual step of destroying the physical Silent Mail server. "Gone. Can’t get it back. Nobody can," said Janke. "We thought it was better to take flak from customers than be forced to turn it over."

These developments don’t bode well for secure e-mail in the United States. So far, to my knowledge, Lavabit and Silent Circle are the only services to have shut down. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if others followed suit.

Comments closed
    • Beomagi
    • 7 years ago

    Well, didn’t you choose to be spied on????

      • Umbragen
      • 7 years ago

      Cue Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”

    • ish718
    • 7 years ago

    Such a big government but the people that are really running the show are a relatively small group.

      • MarkG509
      • 7 years ago

      This.

      + Term Limits.
      + Strong limits on political contributions, and only then from any one/thing that actually has a vote (ie, not corporations or PACs).
      +Increase the penalty for lying and misleading in any public statement by any public official.
      + Some way to enforce campaign “promises”.

        • rika13
        • 7 years ago

        Term limits are bad. Bad politicians are no longer bound by re-election desires and do what they want. Good politicians are arbitrarily removed, to the detriment of their people.

        I say we use the Ottoman solution to political corruption, death. No fines, no prison, death was the ONLY sentence for corruption, so they couldn’t weasel themselves into a cushy life sentence.

        I say we ban direct campaign funds contributions from anyone. Not that hard for a company to pay employees extra and ask them to donate to a certain candidate. Only banning direct donations will fix this. This also allows for 1st Amendment rights to debate and discussion and for companies to state that certain politicians would be good or bad for their business.

        It is impossible to require campaign promises to be kept. There are no kings in our system. POTUS can promise free weed to everyone, but Congress will block it. Senators and Representatives can promise anything, but have 99 or 434 other people to contend with, as well as the POTUS. Both have to pass laws that are legal or the SCOTUS will kick them to the curb.

          • Cuhulin
          • 7 years ago

          I heartily disagree about term limits. Bad politicians need to build towards the next job. Good politicians don’t stick around in politics for every anyway.

    • willyolio
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. [/quote<] You'd would think those two actions are one and the same.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Just another battle in the war of counter-intelligence. It is only going to get worse for the counter-intelligence crowd. The amount of noise and content on the internet continues to grow while computing power to filter and decrypt the information is not only falling to keep up. It is falling behind. Semiconductor-based computing is hitting physical walls (power consumption per die, transistors are becoming more “leaky” and we are closing some theoretical limits).

    That’s why counter-intelligence agencies are among the biggest backers for alternative computing schemes (quantum computing, genetic computing). Unfortunately, they only got working prototypes that resemble semiconductor-based computers back in 1950s-1960s (Large, expensive, difficult to operate and work with)

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      Even if they do keep up, it’s information overload. That’s what happened to the Stasi and Nazis.

      Yes, then they can claim anyone is a terrorist for political purposes, but that further delegitimizes the entire system to the dwindling number of supporters. They’re not exactly making new friends.

      So everybody make some noise. 😉

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        That’s what Snowden did. He started a wildfire and it’s spreading everywhere. Wikileaks threw out a lot of kindling ahead of that.

    • ShadowEyez
    • 7 years ago

    Sad.

    On a related issue, does anyone know of a good opensource/free web-mail/groupware package that a person can run on their own server (ie citadel, kolab) that supports PGP?

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      Take a look at the [url=http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mailpile-taking-e-mail-back<]Mailpile project[/url<] on indiegogo. I'd love to see that come to fruition, and at over 1/2 their funding target with 31 days to go, it looks like their make it easily.

    • Ringofett
    • 7 years ago

    SpiderOak. I’m worried. Zero Knowledge? I’ll take them at their word. But this idea where the government goons could force them to, perhaps, exploit their own systems (there are a couple small vulnerabilities SpiderOak allows in the name of having a half-way user friendly system, namely keeping your password in your browser briefly while logging in via the website) in order to feed them data, and then threaten them with jail and ruining their lives and their families live by extension if they resist/tell their customers?

    I like them and all, but I don’t pay them to be martrys for my data. Is Wuala truly beyond US jurisdiction? I’m currently experimenting with them, but they also use convergent encryption. I know very little about encryption, but I can read, and lots of people that DO know about security seem to toss in a flag at that.

    I’ve been trying to find a reasonably trustworthy entity to avoid the hassle of encrypted containers via apps like TrueCrypt, but it might come to that.

      • boing
      • 7 years ago

      The ONLY reason I chose Wuala instead of SpiderOak is because Wuala is a Swiss company with servers in France and Switzerland.

      It’s naive to believe that France doesn’t have its own PRISM programme, but to me it felt wiser picking a provider with servers in a country where no such programme has been revealed (yet) and not one where the government is notoriously known to spy on server traffic.

    • danny e.
    • 7 years ago

    I propose we start a MMO that is something along the lines of the old RISK game. It’s a world domination game but has much more specific nations & targets, ect. Will have to work all the details out. However, the game will most vitally use email traffic to handle all game transactions. This game will involve air raids on neighbor nations to your nation, lobbed missiles into non-bordering nations, random terrorist attacks that could take out small groups of soldiers. A very complicated conquest game.

    At any rate, as stated, all transactions would be email traffic. Contents of said email transactions would be very specific on the nature of the attack to be made and response traffic would state the expected damage by said attacks. Every transaction would contain at least one or more of the necessary keyword triggers. 😉

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I hope nobody here sent nude photos of yourselves to your girlfriends or boyfriends.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Wait a minute. Let’s make all this fair and square. Ok, let’s let them read our emails and love letters and whatnots.. And in return they should ALSO let US read THEIR emails! Sounds fair?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    All this reminds me of Star Wars. Guess which side we’re on.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      The one that has cookies?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    In other news, the American government is planning to demolish the Statue of Liberty.

      • Cuhulin
      • 7 years ago

      Yes, I learned that in the original Deus Ex.

    • lycium
    • 7 years ago

    America used to be called home of the free and land of the brave…

    Seems no one is free, or brave enough to kick out / ban from politics both paid-for parties.

      • Laykun
      • 7 years ago

      I believe they still do. It’s called propaganda.

      [url<]http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking[/url<] [url<]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/world-freedom-index-2013_n_2440620.html[/url<] No where in the world is really free from this BS though.

    • HadrianDidWell
    • 7 years ago
      • ryko
      • 7 years ago

      wow…what does it take to get a ban around here?

        • HadrianDidWell
        • 7 years ago

        Since when it’s justified to ban a person for a political opinion? Aren’t we discussing a political topic here?

          • Cyril
          • 7 years ago

          We are indeed discussing a political topic. However, [url=https://techreport.com/news/25192/john-carmack-becomes-cto-of-vr-firm-oculus?post=750698<]you were recently warned[/url<] that bigotry and intolerance are not welcome on TR. Since you have decided not to heed that warning, you are now no longer welcome on TR. Your account has been deactivated.

            • JohnC
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks.

            • Duck
            • 7 years ago

            Tolerance is over rated 😉

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            Well now, that was a brief TR career.

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 7 years ago

            more like HadrianDidPoorly amirite?

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Cyril was too soft for you in his previous comment. But this can be easily fixed.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      1) Lieberman and Napolitano both quit.

      2) Yes, there are plenty of bad Jews. But I can find you a lot more bad Christians, simply because there are more Christians. And I can find some of those amongst “the powers that be” from about the same period of time you reference that were racist against Jews, Asians, and more, like FDR and huge numbers of the Progressives. Does that make Christians evil conspirators? No. It just so happens there are lots of bad people. Always have been, probably always will.

      3) Those particular Progressives were the architects of a number of the institutions you just mentioned, and their British accomplices, like John Maynard Keynes, were not Jewish, either.

      4) It’s not a conspiracy theory that there’s a group of people who pull the strings. It’s called “the government” and you may be surprised to learn that other people have heard of it, too.

      5) “The government” takes many forms and has not strictly adhered to the exact same one for the 100 year history you are lumping together for your own convenience. For example, even though the Federal Reserve is 100 years old, it was relatively benign for much of its history and politicians long before managed to cause similar problems without it.

      6) Pinning the blame for the world’s age old problems on “dangerous foreigners” is classic nationalism. Now [i<]there's[/i<] an ideology that doesn't seem to have changed in 100 years. You don't like globalists. We get it. Yet you speak against their brand of racism and cite an ideology that is persistently dependent on another brand of racism. Get your story straight, please.

    • FubbHead
    • 7 years ago

    Shit is getting seriously not funny over there. For real. That crap is something countries like China does.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      you didn’t think you were really free, did ya?

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        In our modern world, freedom is only an illusion. That’s what governments want their people to believe. Then they collect taxes on literally everything everyone does or owns or buys, from your toothbrush to your casket.

      • NovusBogus
      • 7 years ago

      China is way, way ahead of us here as are a number of countries in Europe–they’re just not stupid enough to get caught doing it. Governments and communication networks have been BFFs since the inception of both, this is why I have so little faith in ‘the cloud’ and other data centralization attempts.

    • Billstevens
    • 7 years ago

    One thing the government grant us is more transparency in its use of all of our personal data while it sifts through it in the interest of greater public safety. I want to know what I am giving up so we can decide when they have gone too far for comfort. We shouldn’t need a whistle blower to tell us how much privacy we are parting with for our relative safety.

    At the same time we all have an obligation to speak up when we feel that they are overstepping their bounds in weighing protection against privacy. Its just hard to tell when that happens with all the disinformation and secrecy about the methods being used.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    Mr. Orwell would’ve rolled in his grave. I think someone used the 1984 book as an instructional manual.

    EDIT: And the Brave New World book as well. Not many of my friends are that aware of the Snowden incident. One of them even thought I was weird for preferring NPR radio over some music radio stations.

      • davidbowser
      • 7 years ago

      Orwell’s 1984 indeed seems apropos, but it has been argued that these types of government programs have existed in the US for a century. They wax and wane from a visibility perspective, but they certainly don’t begin or end with exposure.

      That Snowden continues to make national news in the US is a bit of a shock to me. If the US government were really exerting pressure, the news would slowly taper off. I don’t think the people in charge of the program have any fear of this type of press.

      Most of my family knows that I have done work (nothing even remotely classified) with US agencies, and they will ask my opinion on some of these types of things. I tell them that I have no direct knowledge of the people or circumstances, but based on prior experience of myself and others, it is likely 90% factual. The facts are often twisted by people with influence and power, and thus, what opinions people tend to form are tainted.

      I equate it to watching sausage being made, which would be abhorrent to most folks. They would gladly eat sausage otherwise. The main difference in this case, is that they unknowingly have the chance to be part of the sausage.

    • puppetworx
    • 7 years ago

    So only the state is entitled to secrecy in America? North Korea called, it wants it’s Stalinist policies back.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Why would anybody store their data on any U.S. held soil without user-controlled encryption, at this point?

    This has the massive capacity to directly impact our private economy. Not very well thought out now, is it?

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      “At this point”? You believe government never had full access to any data before? LOL… They always did in the past and always will in the future.

      • CasbahBoy
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/07/prism-revelations-result-in-lost-business-for-us-cloud-companies/[/url<] It already is impacting the private economy: "The survey of members of the organization found that 10 percent of non-US [Cloud Security Alliance member] companies had cancelled contracts with US providers as a result of revelations about PRISM."

      • trackerben
      • 7 years ago

      Seems like a win-win to me. If US persons and corporates flee to foreign networks for this reason, the more fodder for the NSA which has carte blanche to operate abroad and not much less access to stuff there. And the merrier for allied spy agencies who will have even less compunctions against sifting US entities. When I said win-win, I meant NSA and its cousin agencies.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    The rather overly-emotional posts from these guys aside, if they were running their systems properly then they could hand over everything and the government would still have to crack the encryption, just like anyone who sniffs the traffic would have to crack the encryption. I can’t think of any reason why an email provider should even have the technical capability to decrypt a bunch of encrypted emails.

    If used properly (and that can be a big [b<]if[/b<]), then you can encrypt email attachments with PGP and send them through any email service with the knowledge that the government/criminals/etc. will have to break the encryption to get at your information. If these services were operating on a "trust us" basis where the data were only encrypted over the wire but stored in clear text, then it might be a good thing they are shutting down since they were likely giving their customers a false sense of security.

      • maxxcool
      • 7 years ago

      They are not after the encrypted data, But the email addresses ‘to’ and ‘from’ and IP addresses of the sender/recipients that are not encrypted because of how smtp works. there after imo more people to string up, ruin and threaten and to gauge ‘who’ might have more data, or discussed the data and more importantly :

      ::who has the deadman switch::

      • nanoflower
      • 7 years ago

      You have a point. However it’s also possible that they just didn’t want to let the US govt tap into their servers even if everything is encrypted. If the user has their own security implemented (such as using PGP) that may not matter but I can see someone not wanting to assist the govt in accessing this data even if it is relatively secure. (Though with the NSA’s resources it seems reasonable to ask how secure even encrypted emails are.)

      • crabjokeman
      • 7 years ago

      The government is stealing their livelihood for the sake of a witch hunt. They have the right to be “emotional” …

      • Jason181
      • 7 years ago

      I wouldn’t trust pgp-level encryption against the resources of the US government, but I do agree that with proper security procedures, they could legitimately create a “trust no one” solution that would not even allow them access to the data. Would mean no password resets? If there’s a mechanism to send a password reset it seems it would be trivial to “send” a reset and intercept it unless the user had some second-factor authentication, and their private key stored securely somewhere.

      • torquer
      • 7 years ago

      Seriously. You’re talking about the NSA here. If they want to break your encryption, they will. Their technology and abilities are no doubt far and away above anything civilians have available to them. Remember our enemies have never beaten us through encryption – they only get under the radar through low-tech or no-tech communication methods.

      If its digital, they can find it. If they can find it, they can access it.

        • TO11MTM
        • 7 years ago

        In fact, the NSA has Silicon AND Packaging Capabilities, because they have sauce so special they won’t trust an NGO with it.

        I look at it this way; They actually talked IBM into reducing the keyspace of DES to 56 bits. (They asked for 48, but met in the middle.) We can assume they did this in order to have the ability to decrypt sensitive data in a reasonable amount of time. It took the public over 20 years to get something together (Deep Crack) that could do a decryption in 56 hours.

        In fact, Diffie and Hellman (I always think of some sort of fancy mayonnaise when I write their names) eventually came to the conclusion the NSA could have built something similar to Deep Crack for ~20$ Mil in the 70s.

        Brute forcing is ugly, but in the case of encryption it is also very parallelizable. Combine that with possible know-how of vulnerabilities in an algorithm, and eventually it boils down to how many computational units you have available. And, with custom hardware it is actually very easy to build an effective cracker;

        [url<]http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/18288/Simple-Cryptographer-Simple-DES-AES-Implementation[/url<] You'll notice in the code above that there is not a single floating point calculation. And heck, if you're doing custom you can only implement the integer operations required. But lets assume it's a general purpose integer unit; you've still got the ability to cut out the FPU and SSE Whatever operations, (I'm assuming we'd keep MMX or similar for the matrix abilities,) switch up the Instruction/data cache ratios (If we are doing the same thing over and over, we can probably use more D and less I.) tl;dr - Money is actually a cryptographic tool.

          • absinthexl
          • 7 years ago

          For AES-256 (the most commonly used nowadays), you’re talking about ~66,282,862,563,751,221,625,826,507,369,649,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years on a typical CPU to hit the entire keyspace. Divide by half for an average case. Even taking Moore’s Law into account, we’ll still all be long dead before a typical brute force attempt is successful.

          Weak passphrases can be cracked in a short time – passwords on a Post-It stuck to the monitor can too – but nobody does that, right?

          ( source: [url<]http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/9072/number-of-aes-256-operations-per-second-on-a-maximized-cray-xe6[/url<] )

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        You are grossly overestimating the NSA’s resources and capacities. They are certainly impressive, but they are still finite. Unless you possess state securities or pose a “significant” threat to international or nation security. The NSA will not bother to waste the energy or resources to decrypt your scat porn collection and IM sex sessions.

        There’s already enough “noise” around the internet. Certain malicious parties already take advantage of this and have getting away with cyber-crimes. These gap orders and seizing servers from private services is telling enough.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        Then how come they couldn’t stop the Tsarnaevs, who were working with the FBI, and repeatedly warned of by other countries? It wouldn’t even need to be effective in any way, shape, or form to pick up on that.

        The reality is that it’s just typical government. Think of the postal service, DMV, or Detroit, and apply that level of waste, confusion, and failure to deliver service to federal “security.”

        It is one giant joke on us all.

          • TO11MTM
          • 7 years ago

          Not that I disagree with the main message of your post, the postal service works great but is in a financial $#!~$#*@ because they are unable to change most of the policies that are costing them money; Congress has to do so and apparently doesn’t care.

          Compare and contrast to my lovely hometown, which in the 70s had special hiring tests for people who couldn’t read. Instead they had to carry a bucket of water back and forth. I so wish I was making that up. I really do.

          But you reminded me, I have to give Omnicorp a call…

      • cphite
      • 7 years ago

      If the government were being run properly, these business owners wouldn’t be forced to choose between keeping their business running and respecting their users rights.

    • chµck
    • 7 years ago

    [rant]The problem with modern governments is that the people who want to become politicians wouldn’t make good politicians, and those that would be good politicians are smart enough to know not to be a politician.

    I’m a college student and have met many “I wanna be a politician!”-types. All of them are really deluded and clearly have mental issues and are easily swayed. They care more about vote than doing the most beneficial things for the common good.

    I fear for the future of our world.[/rant]

      • Wildchild
      • 7 years ago

      I met a woman in my class who wanted to be a member of congress one day. This lady was very abrasive and encouraged other students to “be angry at our president.” When I told her that anger isn’t the best solution to solving problems, she decided to change the subject by asking me, “So what have you done to help out your community?”

      I knew exactly where this was going so I thought I’d have some fun with it. I told her, “Well, I decided I won’t be voting for this upcoming election.” Nothing could have prepared me for the inner daemon I released when this lady started to completely lose her s*!%. She insulted me in front of my other classmates and told me that I’m everything that’s wrong with this country. Even though I told her that I have a constitutional right to not vote as well, she just kept going at it.

      Needless to say, I won’t be voting for her.

        • Sargent Duck
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve become pretty fed up with all my politicians (really, it’s just a contest to see who will lie to me the least) and they’re pretty much all incompetent thieves (my city and province seem to have a competition to see who can waste my tax money the best. The province is ahead, but my city is putting up a good fight. A brand new subway line that goes nowhere!), but I still feel I need to vote. So I go and invalidate my vote (typically mark all the entrants on the ballet).

        I still voted, but I voted by saying none of the candidates meet my criteria.

          • Wildchild
          • 7 years ago

          You wouldn’t happen to live in Houston, would you?

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Province? My guess is Canada.

            • Sargent Duck
            • 7 years ago

            Ottawa, Ontario actually.

            • entropy13
            • 7 years ago

            That’s Paradise when compared to my country, and almost any other province, and city, in it.

          • TO11MTM
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]A brand new subway line that goes nowhere![/quote<] Detroiter here. We had one of these first. That may be a bad sign.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Must’ve escaped from the funny farm.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Heh… Nothing to do with “modern government” – you can find plenty examples in the past and I am sure it will continue to happen in future. And not only in “country politics” – if you try to spend more time on internets you’ll find plenty of such people in various places like Wikipedia (most of their administrators are like that, same for a lot of regular editors with large number of edits) or various large online forums (where a lot of moderators behave in same way).

        • chµck
        • 7 years ago

        You’re right, it’s not just a modern era problem, nor is it limited to government/politics. However, the issue of politics is that actions in this domain have far reaching repercussions. So it is much more important to control than, for example, a board on an internet forum.

        You can’t choose to stop “visiting” a government like you can a website.

      • Price0331
      • 7 years ago

      With my limited knowledge in psychology (earned a bachelor’s just this year, with a focus on experimental design) I think the problem is that the behavior – reinforcement relationships change for politicians so quickly once they become elected. They care about your support while they are running, so they can get the job. But once they are in, most (not all) couldn’t care less about their local constituents. They are then reinforced with cash support through lobbyists, and other corporate entities. Someone’s gotta pay for that beach home in Bermuda.

      Historically, I have always favored presidents of whom money wasn’t much of an object. Kennedy was one example, because his net-worth was larger than many presidents combined, petty lobbying gifts probably didn’t matter too much to him. There should be some way for the people at large to continue having an influence beyond election day, and not just on the next election day.

      Just my completely insignificant 2 cents.

        • albundy
        • 7 years ago

        “They are then reinforced with cash support through lobbyists, and other corporate entities. ”

        I wish they would call it what it is, BRIBERY!!!

      • trackerben
      • 7 years ago

      If you’re generalizing, generally you’d be wrong.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Those that want a position of power the most are generally those that you shouldn’t give it to. Especially a position where the power is relatively unchecked (such as a prison guard).

      Also a good leader is not to be confused with a politician.

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 7 years ago

      You should be concerned. Here’s what I have in plan.

      1. Acquire significant amount of wealth and power through connections.

      2. Silently overthrow the US government over decades of backroom deals.

      3. Use harvested data to put anyone that supported Snowden into “Joycamps” (or “Reeducation Camps”), and obviously including others that pose a threat. You know, national security stuff.

      OR:

      1. Become CEO of a company, and purchase data from Facebook, Google, NSA, and etc.

      2. Revolutionize the advertising industry with the data. Person A walks into Starbucks, and a nearby advertisement switches to a special deal on an orange drink because Person A loves orange juice. Person B walks into Starbucks, the advertisement then switches to advertising a new coffee drink because of Person B’s preference for certain stuff.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      About 4% of the US, 12 million people, are likely sociopathic / anti-social. Millions more could have sociopathic tendencies. They are attracted to hierarchial institutions with positions of power, like government and large corporations.

      There’s truth to your “really deluded and clearly have mental issues” observation. However, most that fall in the “clearly” unstable range will end up in the lower levels where there are millions of jobs, like police, military, TSA, etc.

      Here’s where we get into trouble:

      Most people think “anti-social” means hiding from other people, yet sociopaths can actually be extremely extroverted and adept at fitting in. Nobody is looking for them, and they’re “hiding” in the open. That’s what makes them so dangerous compared to obviously “crazy” people.

      It isn’t a coincidence that politicians are widely recognized as liars, but still dupe people by initially appearing as charismatic representatives “of the people.” Sociopaths tend to be manipulative, never apologize for their mistakes, and feel no remorse. Sound familiar?

      The best manipulators rise to the top, so unlike a real job, federal or leadership roles attract what are in some ways the worst of the worst.

      Take a society where these people are perceived as leaders, add in groupthink, and this is how you get Nazis, Soviets, or in today’s case, a “soft totalitarian” government that openly refuses to follow its own laws.

      The trick is to keep these people hiding under a rock, rather than drawing them out like a moth to flame. Just being aware they’re out there in HUGE numbers is a good first step.

        • Ringofett
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Take a society where these people are perceived as leaders, add in groupthink, and this is how you get Nazis, Soviets, or in today's case, a "soft totalitarian" government that openly refuses to follow its own laws.[/quote<] I always found interesting the studies that show how just about anyone can end up in that category in experiments by giving them no more than a lab coat and the mild association with authority that the coat entails. I'd say, in the spirit of this article as well, that it shows why the framers of our constitution in the US had the right idea about extremely limited government. We could have Joseph Stalin as president, but a Stalin running the US of 1790 would be limited to, well, not much. Those strictures turn off liberals by limiting the welfare state, and conservatives by reigning in the "good" parts of law enforcement and the military, but ultimately it has a point. (But of course delayed gratification goes over like a lead balloon, hence the perpetually small Libertarian Party)

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        According to the consensus of modern psychology, every human is clinically insane to some degree. To say some are more deluded or pathological is calling the kettle black. No one is more ok than others, everyone has issues, most are just better socialized i.e. disciplined than the minority who exhibit defined criminal behavior.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          Try again. “Modern psychology” is a convenient tool of the state partnership with the pharmaceutical industry to push subsidized prescription drugs through multi-trillion dollar programs like Medicare part D, Medicaid, public schools that hand out Ritalin, state regulated health insurance, and so on.

          Sociopaths do not figure into this. There is not a massive industry of drugs claiming to treat anti-social behavior as it truly isn’t normal, and because of its secretive nature, is not something that people go to doctors and talk about.

          So yes, when it comes to normal people, psychiatrists prescribe drugs left and right, claiming to treat mental “symptoms” that anyone could exhibit at some point. Isn’t that convenient!

          Drugs like serotonin reuptake inhibitors, psychostimulants, and numerous unverified “off label” uses have quite literally nothing to do with treating the underlying cause of true illness.

          And I do mean “literally,” in that they are not just regularly proved to be less effective than placebos or simple exercise, but they are often counterproductive. Many people become bipolar from being put on SSRIs for unipolar depression.

          There are countless cases of completely normal people suddenly “snapping” from withdrawal symptoms after a dosage change or stopping use of an addictive prescription drug.

          Diet changes and addressing nutrition deficiencies are almost universally more effective because the average person has a serious problem with that to begin with. 50% of people are overweight and almost everyone is vitamin D deficient, so this isn’t exactly some conspiracy theory I’m talking about.

          Again, that makes it very convenient to shell out drugs like candy and pretend it’s all in peoples’ heads, because hey, look at all the other fat and sick people! That’s normal, right…right?!?

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Wait until a close relative gets a serious mental illness then see what you think.

            • chµck
            • 7 years ago

            Of course there are real serious mental illnesses, but I don’t think he meant to imply that everything in the DSM is a scam by the government, but he does have a point with so many people being on drugs that they don’t need.

            If you were to attend college now, you would be shocked at how many students are on ADD meds. Many of them don’t even need it but are on it because they wanted an edge in school so they visited a doctor and faked the general symptoms. It’s particularly popular among business students (at least at my uni).

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Ok, but people faking symptoms s is a far cry from some kind of conspiracy to keep everyone on meds.

            • chµck
            • 7 years ago

            The “conspiracy” may be closer to reality than most may think.
            Soon, everyone will be suffering from some mental deficiency according to the DSM. This could be used to limit firearm sales for example.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      The future of our world? Well, let me put it this way: it can’t be much worse than the Earth falling into a black hole.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 7 years ago

    America. Spreading freedom throughout the world.

      • Scrotos
      • 7 years ago

      One neutron bomb at a time!

      (?!?! whatever it sounded cool)

      • crabjokeman
      • 7 years ago

      That sounded sarcastic. I’m going to report you to the HUAC!

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      The situation is a little more complex due to [url=http://memerial.net/5086-american-freedom-made-in-china<]this[/url<].

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      America – The land of the… er… not so free.

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