Users of the extra secure and private email provider Lavabit are out of luck after the owner shut down the service on Thursday offering only a cryptic message as an explanation. Lavabit is the preferred email service provider of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and yes, this matters.
In a note posted on lavabit.com, Ladar Levison goes into very little detail about what compelled him to shut down his service so abruptly, but it seems likely that he opted to pull the plug rather than comply with government requests about the Snowden connection. The note in full:
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 10 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 favourable 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
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