Email provider used by Edward Snowden shuts down, leaves cryptic but obvious message


Lavabit, the privacy-focused secure email service, has suddenly shutdown after nearly ten years of operation. The service was notable for offering high-levels of encryption for its users, providing a level of protection not easily found elsewhere. It was also NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s email provider of choice.

Its owner and operator, Ladar Levison, posted a message on the site announcing the suspension of operations. However, he says he is unable to detail the exact reasoning for the shutdown and instead hints at it by saying that he wishes to avoid aiding in “crimes against the Amercian people.” Check out the full message below:

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.

That last paragraph is especially disturbing. Hopefully Lavabit and the people behind it will be able to weather this storm, so we might one day see the service come back online.

[via Gizmodo, image via Zennie Abraham]

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  • j

    hi everybody,

    we have some freemailers in europe:

    german to english translation is straight forward using google translate, just to setup your mail account.

    Also think of getting your own domain with some Gb of email webspace, Yes, just the domain, then you will be able to have your own hosted mailserver.

    take a look at


  • CJ Cotter

    Yes, sure, Lavabit had free email accounts, but what you got with them was pitiful. I paid them $8/year to get the extra features. As a result, Lavabit was the best email service I ever had. There isn’t anyone’s free email service that I can recommend. If you want features and quality, you have to pay. That’s the way it is.

  • Reginald

    [@CJ Cotter] But…Runbox isn’t FREE mate! Is there any FREE out of country email provider that are encrypted?

  • Seamus McSeamus

    It’s good to know the scales are falling away from your eyes. More people need to wake up, especially Americans.

    In 2006 Terry Gilliam renounced his US citizenship because he thought the country had become an Orwellian nightmare. I’d like to know what he thinks 7 years later.

  • CJ Cotter

    To Jennifer: Yes.

    Thursday afternoon, I signed up with Runbox in Norway. My Thursday evening was spent changing my email with my banks (credit cards), PayPal, eBay, phone service, employer, and the few merchants I use most. I still have hundreds more to go through. Ugghh!

    I did not have anything stored on Lavabit’s servers, though I know others did.

    Oh…..among the top 10 immediate email changes, was my dotTech subscription.

    I don’t mean to sound like Clinton, but I feel your pain.

  • smaragdus

    InstantCrypt is a simple way to send encrypted e-mails: – Home Page – InstantCrypt at Softpedia – InstantCrypt Portable at Softpedia

  • Susanne

    Holy crap, this is getting scary. I’ve been one of the people going around with my fingers in my ears, singing Lalalalalala really loudly so as to not listen to what I thought was just paranoia of the Grassy Knoll variety.

    I’m not thinking paranoia any more. I’m thinking that my friend who utterly believes that 9/11 was a deliberate move designed to enable *just* the sort of invasive government actions via the Patriot Act that we are seeing now might not be quite as nutz as I thought. (Well, ok, he IS pretty nutz and I don’t actually believe that 9/11 was planned, but I don’t think there’s much doubt it’s been seized as the perfect excuse to enact moves long desired by elements of the government.)

    I’m a writer & I research some pretty weird stuff on-line. And I have absolutely NO doubt that I’m on a list of some sort or another. The fact that many years ago I started paperwork to take a job in the States & got far enough along that I was fingerprinted by the RCMP for security clearance reinforces my suspicions. The job didn’t pan out for many reasons, but I **know** those fingerprints are still on file on both sides of the border!

  • Jeff S

    [@Jennifer] YES

  • Jennifer

    What am I going to do now? My electric bill, eBay, Paypal and several other business email accounts were ALL with Lavabit?? Am I screwed?

  • DoktorThomas™

    Witness: freedom and liberty has finally been quashed by the Jim Crow Party of Disappointment and their gestapo overseers of the Government Plantation. Thousands of years darkness soon to follow. “Please report to your gulag immediately! Don’t forget your papers … Leave your possessions; they belong to the President.” [Don’t laugh. See Executive Order 13603.]

    If any reader believes it can’t happen to her/him, then realize anyone who reads this page is suspect. And, according to the Patriot Act, any free thinker is, by definition, a “terrorist”. So comments here, or anywhere else, maybe the kiss of death. You are under threat of silence. True Hitlerism.

    It is urged that everyone donate more than they can afford to the lava defense fund. If you don’t preserve freedom and liberty, life is nothing. Dependence on government for anything is purely unConstitutional. ©2013

  • Tom

    This is a warning to all who don’t have email backups. Hint: Mailstore is your friend.