On August 8, Lavabit email service, the one allegedly used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, shut down its servers. The company’s owner, Ladar Levison, left a vague but strong message on the page:
“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.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: 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.
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC”
This note seems to state that Levison is under a gag order, which prevents him from publicly discussing the case. He has asked readers to contribute to his defense fund, alluding to a trial, and to push for greater transparency laws.
What do you think caused this sudden shut down? Why do you think Levison would need a legal defense team? Do you think the US government will become more transparent any time soon?