Snowden's Email Service Quickly Shuts Down

Lavabit apparently refused to work with US government

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2013 6:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – An email service apparently used by Edward Snowden has opted to shut down after an unpleasant encounter with the US government, the Guardian reports. Called Lavabit, the service seems to have refused a court order to let the feds spy on its customers. "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," wrote founder Ladar Levison. He went on:

  • "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."
Privacy advocates say it's the first email company to close shop rather than comply with US surveillance. Levison now plans to fight the US government in court and eventually reopen Lavabit, which claimed 350,000 customers and was known for its rigorous security features.

This Sunday, June 9, 2013, file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong.
This Sunday, June 9, 2013, file photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)
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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. - Ladar Levison

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