Ed Snowden's Email Provider, Lavabit, Shuts Down To Fight US Gov't Intrusion
from the standing-on-principles dept
Early on in the Snowden leaks, it was revealed that Snowden himself was using email services from an operation called Lavabit, which offered extremely secure email. However, today Lavabit’s owner, Ladar Levison, shut down the service, claiming it was necessary to do so to avoid becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people.” Not much more information is given, other than announced plans to fight against the government in court. Reading between the lines, it seems rather obvious that Lavabit has been ordered to either disclose private information or grant access to its secure email accounts, and the company is taking a stand and shutting down the service while continuing the legal fight. It’s also clear that the court has a gag order on Levison, limiting what can be said.
My Fellow Users,
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC
Apparently there were just over 400,000 email accounts on Lavabit at the time they shut down — victims of the US government trying to spy on certain email accounts.
It’s not difficult to make an educated guess as to what happened. The Feds went to Lavabit demanding access to Ed Snowden’s email. Lavabit refused. The feds went to (secret) court and the (secret) court said (in secret) that Lavabit had to turn over the information. And Lavabit’s response is noble: it is shutting down and fighting in court, rather than becoming a pawn in this and compromising the trust and reputation its built up over the years. Lavabit also includes a link on their site for a legal defense fund.