An ex-SEAL's firm is caught between privacy and security.
Another Pentagon covert operative has left his post at the Defense Department to join the fight for civil liberties. But you probably won’t find him buddying up with ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden any time soon.
Former Navy SEAL commando Mike Janke is a spy-turned-privacy advocate. Unlike Snowden, he still has friendly relations with U.S. special operations teams, as the co-founder of a company that encrypts communications for feds and activists alike.
Still, his allegiances are split right now.
The federal government uses his firm, Silent Circle, to hide sensitive information from the public. The public uses its secure email, texts, videos and calls to hide personal information. And the private sector uses its technology to hide trade secrets from foreign governments and the public. As a citizen, father and intellectual property owner, Janke has had all those needs himself.
"The FBI is a customer of ours," he says. At the same time, "they wanted legislation to put a back door into all kinds of technologies like Silent Circle” for intercepting transmissions, “so, we're torn."
Late Thursday, company executives said they felt compelled to cut off Silent Mail, the email service, to preempt any government attempt at email-tapping. The move came after the shutdown earlier in the day of another email provider, Lavabit, that Snowden reportedly relied on for secure correspondences.