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Privacy Identity Innovation conference executive producer Natalie Fonseca (left) with Lothar Determann of Baker & McKenzie, Declan McCullagh of CNET, Mary Ludloff of PatternBuilders and Ladar Levison of Lavabit.

One of the people directly impacted by the Edward Snowden controversy warned an audience in Seattle about the lasting impact of the government’s surveillance efforts — including the extreme steps he’s now taking to protect his own privacy.

“I’ve basically gotten to the point where, with anything that’s sensitive, I try to talk to people in person with my cell phone off, preferably in an area where I know no one is pointing a parabolic mic at me,” said Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit LLC, the encrypted email service that was used by Snowden.

Levison, who has said he had not heard of Snowden before the controversy, closed the service in the wake of the controversy. Although he wasn’t able fully disclose the reason for the closure, it was assumed that he took the step rather than complying with a demand to turn over otherwise private data from the email service.

He was part of a panel on the impact of the NSA surveillance controversy at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference, under way in Seattle right now. The panel highlighted the challenge that the situation has created for technology companies seeking to build trust with their customers.

An audience member asked the panel if they considered metadata personal information, and the general consensus was yes. But Levison cautioned, “If you think they’re only collecting metadata then you’re fooling yourselves.”

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