Secure and free web-based email service provider Lavabit shut down today. What makes Lavabit different from countless other email providers who have shuttered over the years is that according to BoingBoing, Lavabit is the email service supposedly used by Edward Snowden. Which would explain the nebulous tone in the farewell letter posted on the company's front page by owner Ladar Levison. It also explains why Lavabit was shut down by the US government, although that was mostly inferred from the letter which due to legal limitations does not expound on the official reasons for the shut down - one can imagine. It certainly explains the following punchline in Levison's letter: "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."
We wholeheartedly agree.
Lavabit's farewell letter:
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.