"The Real Story of Lavabit's Founder" (my emphasis in red):
"On October 2, a raft of court documents was unsealed, and we now know why Ladar’s explanation for taking Lavabit offline was so oblique. (The order to unseal the documents is still under seal, making it unclear why they were unsealed, but it seems that when Ladar’s case made its way up the chain, an appellate court judge decided he’d had enough of the secrecy.) As the FBI sought to tap Lavabit in a novel way, an effort that began in June, Ladar was under a gag order to remain silent about the process, including but not limited to revealing information about the target(s) of the eavesdropping (again, one of which everyone has assumed, with good reason, to be Snowden)."NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally" "The NSA's problem? Too much data." "Remarkably Timed Spamouflage, Scary Iran Plot Edition"
Here’s something else I think I can report: agents of the federal government have broken the internet’s standard form of encryption. This is where the gun comes into play.
Most encrypted online communication uses a protocol called secure sockets layer, or SSL. To oversimplify, SSL protected the emails, passwords, and other information sent to and from Lavabit’s servers. To do this, a user employed a public key to encrypt an email that could then only be decrypted with a corresponding private key, which in theory would only be known by the intended recipient. Each connection was protected by a third key, called a session key.
The FBI needed two things: a warrant to see metadata (the recipient of an email and time it was sent, for example, but not the content of the email) and a method to decrypt the SSL connections. The warrant was easy. The ability to decrypt SSL connections was problematic.
Normally, an email service logs metadata, and those logs can be monitored by the government. But Lavabit wasn’t a normal email service. Ladar engineered it so that such metadata were never kept on his servers. So when the feds said they wanted to monitor the email of the target(s) in real time, and when they asked for Lavabit’s private SSL master key to do so, Ladar deduced that they’d come up with a way to figure out those third keys, the session keys. Until now, uncovering a session key was thought to be theoretically possible but also so difficult that it would be impractical. Ladar realized the FBI had been able to “reduce” the problem such that it had the ability to uncover session keys in real time. This meant that once they had access to the private SSL keys, they would be able to monitor everyone who was accessing Lavabit and examine everything being sent to and from its servers.
“Nobody knows that capability exists,” Ladar says. He admits he’s just guessing, but then, he would be in a better position than anyone on the planet to guess about such a thing. “That’s why they were trying to keep it secret. They have figured out how to listen to a large number of encrypted conversations in real time. They’ve probably uncovered a weakness in the SSL algorithm. The feeling I got is that they can do it with a single device that has specialized hardware inside it.”"
Assange (my emphasis in red; the whole thing is very good):
"Ninety-eight percent of Latin American telecommunications to the rest of the world - that means SMS, phone, email etc. - passes through the US. That’s a function of the geography of the Americas, and as a result the US has what its intelligence agencies call a ‘home field advantage’, where they can easily intercept these communications that pass through them, index them, store aspects of them forever, and therefore gain understanding of how Latin America is behaving, where it is moving, its economic transfers, the activities of its leaders and major players."The US is losing control of the internet"
That permits the US to predict in some ways the behavior of Latin American leaders and interests, and it also permits them to blackmail. Nearly every significant person in Latin America is blackmailable by the US, because the US has access to those telecommunications records that have passed through the US, as well as other records it has obtained within LA by planting fiber optic taps, surveillance equipment at embassies and DA bases."