FBI “Incidentally” Seized Entire TorMail Email Server

Court documents released last week reveal that
the FBI “incidentally” seized all
emails from service TorMail in an investigation of a company with a
reputation for facilitating child pornography. Before closing down
in August 2013, TorMail had a reputation for privacy. It shielded a
motley of journalists, activists, dissidents—and a fair share of
criminals. Former TorMail users had some pressing reason for using
the email service they believed to be untappable and secure.
 They should be either outraged at the potential breach of
privacy or shaking in their seats over potential criminal

The FBI’s acquisition came to light during a Florida court case,
demonstrating that its new stash of emails has been used in at
least one investigation unrelated to Freedom Hosting. The FBI used
a man’s emails to gather evidence of his execution of credit card
fraud. The email linked to the man’s credit card forgery scheme had
a “tormail.net” suffix. Once they obtained a warrant they needed
only turn to their vast trove of TorMail emails.

TorMail is a Tor Hidden Service that is used in conjunction with
the Tor anonymity network. The Guardian explains in its

Tor Beginner’s Guide

[Tor] offers a technology that bounces internet users’
and websites’ traffic through “relays” run by thousands of
volunteers around the world, making it extremely hard for anyone to
identify the source of the information or the location of the

TorMail’s fall in August 2013 was tied to Freedom Hosting’s, a
company that hosted untraceable .onion websites only available over
the Tor anonymity network. Eric Eoin Marques, Freedom Hosting’s
founder, was arrested in July 2013 with charges of facilitating
child pornography. TorMail shut down shortly after.

Just because TorMail was seized doesn’t mean journalists,
dissidents, and privacy-conscious people should give up on email
privacy. But they should be careful. Email security is tricky. When
using an intermediary like TorMail there is always the risk that it
will broken in from the top, but there are other, slightly
trickier, ways to secure emails. According to
The Daily Dot
, the only foolproof way is to use
software like PGP, which is “virtually unbreakable” and only takes
a 15 minutes to master.

When it comes to online anonymity tools, the government is
understandably concerned about the strains of criminal activity:
the pedophiles, the drug dealers, the fraudsters, etc. But
journalists, whistleblowers, and human rights groups with nobler
motivations for seeking privacy are now caught in the FBI’s net

The FBI’s activities re-enforces a question that emerged in
parallel with Edward Snowden’s leaks: What the heck have government
agencies been up to behind our backs? It looks like the National
Security Agency isn’t the only agency opaquely collecting bulk

from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1d6kytU

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