Hushmail CTO interviewed (Re: Hushmail in U.S. v. Tyler Stumbo)

Sidney Markowitz sidney at
Thu Nov 8 14:41:35 EST 2007

There's an informative article in a Wired blog in which Hushmail CTO
Brian Smith provides some information that hints at what happened in
this case, although he would not speak specifically about the case.


His implication is that the target was using their simplified version of
Hushmail that encrypts on the server, using an SSL connection to send
passphrase from the client to the server then providing an interface
similar to ordinary webmail. The court order may have required Hushmail
to save and hand over the password and/or the decrypted mail. Since
Brian Smith would not say exactly what happened in this case, we can't
tell if they modified the system to save the target's password the next
time they used it and handed that over along with historical stored
encrypted mail, or if the modification was to save unencrypted mail sent
after the court order was received, or something else I haven't thought
of. In any case, Smith said that Hushmail only complies with court
orders that target specific accounts and would not take any action that
would affect users not specifically targeted by a court order.

My reading of Smith's statements in interview is that Hushmail would be
subject to a court order requiring them to supply a hacked Java applet
to someone who is using their Java based client-side encryption. There
is no doubt that would be technically feasible, it is mentioned  and
would fall within the guidelines for court orders that Smith said that
Hushmail would comply with.

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