E-mail provider linked to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden closes

By on August 9, 2013, 9:15 AM
nsa, e-mail, edward snowden, email provider, lavabit

An e-mail provider publically linked to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has shut down shop amid fears of becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people.”

Lavabit, a provider that’s been around for nearly 10 years and boasts 350,000 users, gained a ton of notoriety when it became known that Snowden was using the service. When Snowden sent out messages inviting human rights activists to meet with him during his stint in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, they reportedly came from the e-mail address edsnowden@lavabit.com.

The owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, left visitors with a notice on his website announcing the closure. In it, Levison said he has been forced to make the difficult decision to shut down Lavabit. He said he wished he could legally share with readers the events that led to the decision but that simply isn’t possible.

Levison said the first amendment is supposed to guarantee him the freedom to speak out in situations like this but unfortunately, laws passed by Congress say otherwise.

As for what’s next for Levison, he said he’s already started preparing the paperwork needed to keep the fight alive. A favorable decision would allow him to reopen Lavabit as an American company. There’s no timetable on when that may or may not happen, however. Until then, he strongly recommends against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US.

Those interested in checking out what Lavabit had to offer can still do so thanks to cached pages from Google.




User Comments: 17

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MilwaukeeMike said:

This doesn't pass the smell test at all... Legal history is FULL of examples of companies providing goods and services to customers who then use that good or service for something they're not supposed to do and the company never gets in trouble. VCR makers in the 80s to gun manufacturers today have never gotten in trouble for having a customer do something illegal with their product.

I would guess Lavabit must have really done something wrong to actually go and shut down their service. If we shut down every email service and social network just because a wanted fugitive had an account we'd have nothing left.

I would guess they're in trouble for the same reason Ed Snowden chose to use them. They're doing something they shouldn't on a scale much larger than just having an account called edsnowden.

And anyway... shouldn't one of the most wanted men in the world maybe use something besides his real name for an email address? You'd think getting a new email would be one of those things you do when you're hiding from the American govt.

1 person liked this | MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

Or it could just be that maybe he used lavabit to distribute the content of the documents and now the US wants the site shut down just because they can.

Its really absurd how many rights were stripped away from the American public just to attempt to keep us "safe". Fear and counterintelligence is the new weapon, and they will use it against us.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Or it could just be that maybe he used lavabit to distribute the content of the documents and now the US wants the site shut down just because they can.

Its really absurd how many rights were stripped away from the American public just to attempt to keep us "safe". Fear and counterintelligence is the new weapon, and they will use it against us.

Actually I read a little more about it and it sounds like the Govt might be shutting them down to prevent another incident like this one. There's one problem though... believing the govt is shutting them down (and other encrypted email services have shut down now too) means we have to believe that the govt hasn't ever been able to read encrypted emails from these sites. If they can read the emails, then why shut down the site? They should keep it open so people use it.

If they haven't been able to read encrypted emails, then what's the point of the entire PRISM thing? All anyone has ever had to hide was use lavabit instead of gmail. I guess I shouldn't be surprised if the govt built some huge system that turned out to be a waste of money.

GrumpyBear said:

Hmm, sounds like a way forward to fix the problem is for someone with money to set up an encrypted email provider with all physical assets and incorporated in the Cayman Islands. As the Govt. wouldn't be able to subpoena the records, the would have to hack the system. And with sufficient and evolving encryption methods, even "no such agency" would be playing catch up.

Norgi said:

Or it could just be that maybe he used lavabit to distribute the content of the documents and now the US wants the site shut down just because they can.

Its really absurd how many rights were stripped away from the American public just to attempt to keep us "safe". Fear and counterintelligence is the new weapon, and they will use it against us.

That doesnt give them the right to shut down a todally legal email provider (well ok they define what is right, but you know what I mean) Since when is encrypting ones email illegal. This is really worring. Also a huge mess for me, I really should have buyed a domain for my email

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Encrypt everything with 256-bit and double passwords all important files you attach to your emails. Like someone middle now. Could explain email takes a will to receive.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This doesn't pass the smell test at all...
No it doesn't smell right. The fact the E-mail provider can't say why, only suggest the government has put a gag order on them. Gag orders are unconstitutional period, and to enforce them proves our government is corrupt.

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

This doesn't pass the smell test at all...
No it doesn't smell right. The fact the E-mail provider can't say why, only suggest the government has put a gag order on them. Gag orders are unconstitutional period, and to enforce them proves our government is corrupt.

Show me a government that isn't corrupt & I'll show you the tooth fairy.

Guest said:

Sounds like a wise precaution, glad someone has common sense!(y)

PS Don't forget your tinfoil hats, guys :D

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

No it doesn't smell right. The fact the E-mail provider can't say why, only suggest the government has put a gag order on them. Gag orders are unconstitutional period, and to enforce them proves our government is corrupt.

Show me a government that isn't corrupt & I'll show you the tooth fairy.

This has nothing to do with corruption.

The email provider has chosen not to say why they closed, there's no gag order. (gag orders are used all the time in court cases, they do not violate the 1st amendment. They're a limitation of it, much like the crimes libel and slander.) The line from the story above is the owner 'has been forced to make the difficult decision to shut down Lavabit.'

Here's what probably happened.... after Snowden pulled his stunt the govt showed up at the offices of Lavabit and said "We want access to your servers" And Lavabit said 'No'. So the govt told them that this is all part of a law congress has passed and they can either give the NSA access or shut down. The owner then 'made the difficult decision' (in his words) to shut down instead of betraying his customers by allowing the NSA access to what is supposed to be secure email.

The other private email services like Silent Circle then also shut down because they 'saw the writing on the wall' (their words). That means they knew the NSA would be visiting them next with the same ultimatum.

There's no corruption or gag order or anything else. All the NSA is doing is making Lavabit follow the law congress passed. So we can be glad that our govt isn't corrupt because there's no need to be when the shady crap is perfectly legal. And we can be upset that they are recording everything we write online.

So, just for the record.... Hi Obama, I love you!

Guest said:

Until then, he strongly recommends against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US.

they took down a service thats been around for 10 years and serves 350k people and over just because one man has an email account there

brute force raping the entire world USA

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This has nothing to do with corruption.
How can you say that when the guys own recommendation was, "he strongly recommends against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US."? There is plenty of corruption that closed this email service.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Until then, he strongly recommends against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US.

they took down a service thats been around for 10 years and serves 350k people and over just because one man has an email account there

In the article it says the owner of the site decided to take it down, not the govt. He doesn't say why, but you should be able to guess based on his 'strong recommendation against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US.' If you can't guess, go read my post above yours, and see if what I wrote sounds plausible to you.

How can you say that when the guys own recommendation was, "he strongly recommends against anyone trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US."? There is plenty of corruption that closed this email service.

He recommends against it because the US has a law that allows them to collect data from the companies that host email servers within it's borders. So how can I say it's not corruption? Because when the NSA follows the laws congress has passed it's not corruption. It's just not ... I didn't make up the definition of that word.

He recommends against 'trusting private data with a company with physical ties to the US' because the US has a law that make 'private' data accessible to the govt. Simple as that.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

He recommends against it because the US has a law that allows them to collect data from the companies that host email servers within it's borders. So how can I say it's not corruption? Because when the NSA follows the laws congress has passed it's not corruption. It's just not ... I didn't make up the definition of that word.
Once again I agree with you because corruption usually is not found within the messenger. You will only find corruption if you follow the trail long enough. But since following these trails will also lead to being classified as a traitor, you won't find many willing to try.

Guest said:

As you all so rightly say, "Yada yada blah blah corruption blah grunt blah conspiracy blah naughty naughty USA blah blah more corruption blah". Yawn zzzzzzz.

lipe123 said:

Why did they shut down?!

just move the servers that host and process everything to middleofnowhere-stan and tell the govt to pick a finger.

This whole snowden thing is a massive joke, I love how Obama said in an interview he doesn't think snowden is a patriot. I wonder how many actual patriots there are in the USA right at this moment, I'd be surprised if it was more than 50% of the population.

What the govt did was downright wrong and if any citizen did the same thing they would be persecuted to death for privacy violations.

Guest said:

What the govt did was downright wrong and if any citizen did the same thing they would be persecuted to death for privacy violations.

What is it that the government has done which you consider wrong?

Who will protect national security if not the democratically elected government, and their security systems?

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