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.
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.