United States International

Private E-mail Not Hush Hush

Private E-mail Not Hush Hush
by: Michael Geist

This past September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency launched "Operation Raw Deal," an initiative that targeted people purchasing raw steroid materials through the Internet from China and repackaging the steroids as drugs for domestic sale. Tyler Strumbo, a 23-year-old California resident, was among the 124 people arrested.

The Strumbo case is of particular interest because of an important Canadian connection. The foundation of the DEA's case rested on hundreds of encrypted e-mails stored on the computer servers of Hush Communications, a company based in Vancouver. A British Columbia court ordered the company to decrypt the e-mails and to send them to the U.S. law enforcement officials. Faced with a valid court order, the company complied, shipping 12 CDs filled with unencrypted personal e-mail to investigators in California.

Hush Communications was founded in 1998 and a year later it unveiled hushmail, a free encrypted e-mail service that allows users to blanket their electronic communications with privacy-protective encryption. Given the openness of standard e-mail, encrypted e-mail can serve many legitimate purposes as people use the technology to restore a measure of privacy to their electronic communications. Those same technologies can be misused, however, since criminals can similarly seek to keep their communications under wraps, thereby thwarting police investigations.

Read the rest of the article at: http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2007/11/27/E-mailDropping/

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