War on Terror

Email Service Lavabit Closes Instead of Helping NSA Spy on Users

| by Michael Allen
article imagearticle image

The email service Lavabit shut down today instead of helping the U.S. government spy on its 350,000 customers.

Lavabit is the first email service to close down rather than comply with a court order to help the NSA spy its on users, who include U.S. citizens.

"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," founder Ladar Levison wrote on Lavabit's website, noted Boing Boing.

"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."

Levison also advised Americans to use an email company off shore.

"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," warned Levison.

Ironically, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reportedly used Lavabit as his e-mail service.

Silent Circle announced on Thursday night that it would also close down its email service, Silent Mail, even though the company has not been served with a court order:

Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “'be complicit in crimes against the American people." We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.

Sources: Boing Boing and Silent Circle