Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lavabit, Edward Snowden's email provider, shuts down

When former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began his series of leaks, it became known that he was using a secure email service called Lavabit to communicate from Russia. On Thursday, the company abruptly announced it was ceasing operations.

Lavabit didn't go into great detail as to why it was shutting down. It did, however, say it did not wish "to become complicit in crimes against the American people."
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.

Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.
Lavabit seems to be suggesting that the U.S. government asked it -- twice -- for certain information, which it provided, but that the requests continue and the company no longer has the resources to fight against them.

That is, of course, just an educated guess based on the above post, but there's no proof of that, although the legal defense fund lends more credence to the theory. Apparently the service was hosting some 400,000 accounts at the time of shutdown.

No comments: