In July, Edward Snowden invited several members of the press for a briefing at the Moscow Airport, where he was staying. According to one of the journalists, he used the email address, “[email protected]” The Texas-based email provider has offered users a service that does not scan their emails for keywords (like Gmail does). Ladar Levinson, who founded Lavabit in 2004, announced earlier today that he is shutting down the company rather than be forced to cooperate with a government investigation.
The website now features a personal message from Levinson expressing his desire to share his “experiences over the past six weeks” and his inability to do so given some undisclosed force.
He writes, “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.”
Levinson goes on to state his team is, “preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
He ends the letter on an ominous note. He warns from his experiences, “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.”