Edward Snowden's email provider, Lavabit, chose to shut down rather than let the feds spy on its customers, but founder Ladar Levison isn't exactly closing up shop. With an assist from encryption company Silent Circle, he's developing Darkmail, a new kind of email system that eliminates what the Wall Street Journal terms the "Achilles' heel" of Lavabit. In that case, "government access" was the weakness, with the feds able to demand encryption keys that would have opened the gates to all users' info. Darkmail will essentially render such a demand useless by putting encryption keys in the hands of users. The private keys would be stored on a user's computer and used to encrypt that user's messages. The only thing Darkmail would be able to pass to the government would be "garble."
"We're taking our inspiration from the Rebel Alliance," Levison tells RT News. "We're the rebels who have decided privacy is too important to compromise on." Set to go into review in the coming months, Darkmail would also make it clear to users whether their email conversations are totally secure (a green light means they are communicating with another Darkmail user) or not (a red light signals they're talking to, say, a Gmailer, whose communications can be monitored). It won't be foolproof, but snoops would have to launch Trojan spyware on the computer of each person they want to track—impossible on a large scale. For all that security, a Darkmail account will cost you, but the technology's code will available to other companies to duplicate. "We want to proliferate the world with this architecture," Silent Circle's CEO tells the Verge. It's expected to launch in Q2 of next year. (Read more Ladar Levison stories.)