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ZDNet interview with Silent Circle CEO offers different perspective on product shutdown

ZDNet interview with Silent Circle CEO offers different perspective on product shutdown

Earlier this afternoon in a post that featured an interview with Lavabit’s owner on his abrupt decision to shutdown his encrypted email service, I also mentioned the shutdown of Silent Circle’s secure email service, Silent Mail.

As good luck in timing would have it, ZDNet has an interview today with CEO Michael Janke with much more on why Silent Circle silenced their secure email service.

Janke and Silent Circle co-founder Phil Zimmerman have since spoken with a few outlets on the company’s decision to shutdown its Silent Mail product.  But the ZDNet interview is an interesting take on the situation, because it’s conducted by David Gewirtz, who authored a post on the shutdowns last week that prompted some criticism.

Not a lot of you agreed with me that companies need to work with the government for the benefit of security. However, Michael Janke, CEO of Silent Circle reached out to me saying, “I liked your article and the questions you raise are different than most coverage I have seen. I would like to answer some of your in depth questions if you are interested.”

Not surprisingly, Gewirtz obliged.  He provides some of the highlights of the interview in his post from today. Below are just a few.

Janke on the right of privacy:

“Whether you’re in Tibet, Toledo, or Tunisia, [it is] the natural born right of every citizen to have a private conversation, to share a private picture or document; we feel is an innate right of the world.”

On why Silent Circle killed their email encryption service:

“We knew that metadata was just as dangerous as email content regardless of if the contents of an email are encrypted. Who, when, where, why, the message header, your ISP, what operating system you’re using, geolocating, and who you’re communicating with are all very dangerous bits of data to retain.”

On this being a bigger picture than PRISM:

“I want to stress, a lot of press has been around PRISM and what happens here in the United States, but this is a global phenomenon. it is not relegated to our shores. This happens in Europe, South America, the Balkans, Asia, on a daily basis. Companies with equipment, people, and data in those countries done with secret courts and gag orders.”

Check out all the highlights of the interview at ZDNet.


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“Whether you’re in Tibet, Toledo, or Tunisia, [it is] the natural born right of every citizen to have a private conversation, to share a private picture or document; we feel is an innate right of the world.”

Sorry Mr. Janke, but America is the only Country in the world founded upon the principle that individuals have unalienable rights and the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect those rights. No such concept ever caught on in the rest of the world.


    He isn’t implying that Tibet, Toledo, or Tunisia were founded upon principles of protecting individual unalienable rights. He’s saying they are NATURAL BORN RIGHTS even to those who live in countries (or cities like Toledo for that matter!) which do not protect those rights. He believes, as I do, that these are unalienable for every person, regardless of nationality.

I think we now know why JaNo doesn’t use email, replying on phone calls for everything. Even if they can find out that a phone call occured it doesn’t prove that you made or received the call. Still not total privacy, but as good as you are going to get these days.

Henry Hawkins | August 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I get a sinking feeling that we are approaching some sort of event horizon concerning what is happening within our government, some epic revelation that (1) things are far, far worse than we suspected, and (2) it is too late to fix them.

    Agree with point #1, disagree with point #2. When the public is outraged, the public gets what it wants, and the public is outraged over NSA spying on the public! (Rule #1 in democracy: The Mob rules.)

    As to why we are a Republic, instead of a pure democracy, the founders knew about Rule #1. But since Obama is working to fundamentally change our country into his socialistic democracy of Utopia, we may make use of Rule #1 in our own favor.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Paul. | August 14, 2013 at 5:21 am

      The rules are different in Obamaland:

      1. The Tea Party gatherings in DC and elsewhere are ‘terrorism.’

      HOWEVER – The OWS, Trayvon and Islamist mobs (in Paris, Sweden) burning and looting, are just frustrated individuals.

      2. Cruz, Palin and other Conservatives (and their families) can be mocked, derided, called crazy, other expletives and obscene names.

      HOWEVER, Obama, et al are sacrosanct and cannot be criticized, mocked, derided at all.

      Leftists are hypocrites and bullies.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Paul. | August 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Paul, part of my fear is that my speculative revelation will be that the powers that be will have managed to make it so that it no longer matters whether the people are mad or not.

The only way a “secret court” got added is through the efforts of John Roberts. Less deserving of his robes than Taney.

Can this get unbuckled?

Start with the fact that our government didn’t event the Internet. Gore’s just a clown for saying so.

And, of all the things the “younger set” hates … abhors … is this government reach. Which was done by old geezers. Many in government have no idea, even, what Internet tools do. Or can do.

And, Ed Snowden is NOT the only fella who pulled up stakes.

We have already seen the PC (punitive conformity) police in action in the US, Canada, Britain, the EU, persecuting dissenters against the Great New Thing (Islamophilia, Communism/Fascism, Global Warmingism/Global tax, Pansexuality, etc.), national and global.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | August 14, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Obama has used every power of his office and every agency of our government to punish and silence opponents and dissenters in the best Alinsky fashion.

    Obama is a 4+ Alinsky (insert expletives) Bully, but an over-sensitive bully who can’t take any criticism or derision himself – even by Rodeo Clowns.

It would be interesting to see how this Silent Circle and Lavabit meltdown relates to non-US email encryption services such as and if we could expect similar abrupt shutdowns of offshore servers?