Encrypted Email Service “Lavabit” Shuts Down Rather Than Comply With NSA

/ 6 years ago


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden used the encrypted email client Lavabit as his own email service. Lavabit is unique in that it offers totally private emails, shielded from government surveillance and messages, to internet users. However, just recently the owner of Lavabit took the decision to shut the service down because he refused to comply with the requests of the NSA and the U.S government.

The owner of Lavabit threw in the towel after a six week legal battle with the federal government crackdown on encrypted communications. Lavabit’s owner is unable to disclose the details of the incident because he has been gagged by a federal government court order.

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,” owner and operator Ladar Levison of Dallas, Texas wrote in the statement. “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.”

Lavabit’s service was unique in that it featured such a high level of encryption not even Lavabit themselves can access the emails let alone the NSA or U.S government. Lavabit accused current large email providers of selling access past spam filters to commercial businesses and too readily handing over user data to the U.S government. It thus wanted to do thinks differently and in a private way, unfortunately this will no longer be the case as the NSA has claimed yet another victim.

You can read the full message of why Lavabit are closing here and there is also a donation link on that page towards Lavabit’s legal defence fees.

Image courtesy of Lavabit

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