Amid leaks, government outrage, and Russia’s act of kindness, Edward Snowden’s email provider has shut down preventing him from reaching the media as easily. Snowden’s email provider, Lavabit, suddenly shutdown today with its owner Ladar Levison blaming a secret government court case as the reason for the shutdown.
Despite fighting the court case for more than six weeks, Levison decided that it would make more sense to suspend operations because they would have a hard time keeping up a fight against a government. Lavabit has been a pro-privacy email service for ten years and was being used by Snowden, which brought about the court case.
Lavabit first made headlines when Snowden used the service to contact human rights workers and lawyers in order to invite them to a press conference in Russia. Since the court case centered around Lavabit’s use by Snowden, the 350,000 other users of the email provider are quite unhappy with Levison’s decision to shutdown without any warning.
For many users, Lavabit was used to run entire private email servers without anyone noticing and suddenly dropping service to hundreds of thousands of customers leaves Levison with some enemies.
Levison has been pro-privacy throughout his career but he did comply with a search warrant in June according to court records. Although this does not necessarily mean that he was any less of a privacy-centric person, it does show that he was willing to close to the case through whatever means necessary.
His message to users stated:
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.
So although they are going to try and appeal, things do not look hopeful for Levison or Lavabit.