Did Edward Snowden cause the shutdown of secure email service Lavabit?
Privacy has been a red hot topic for the past couple of months -- ever since the whole PRISM story hit the news, or shall I say slammed into the news. Nobody likely denies the government the right to attempt to keep citizens safe. In fact, we expect this from it. However the revelations made many uncomfortable thanks to the extremes that were being taken, and resulted in the conversation over whether Edward Snowden was a hero or enemy of the state.
Since the news broke, speculation about the form of communication used between Snowden and writer Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian has been running around the internet, but today those rumors came to an end when Greenwald tweeted this: "Amazing: Lavabit -- the email service used by Snowden -- shuts down rather than comply with US orders".
That and the shutdown cannot readily be tied together, thanks to orders received by the service, though the implications seem clear, given the message posted today on the site, which can be read below.
My Fellow Users,
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.
Despite many sites running with stories of Snowden's blame, the incidents cannot be tied together with certainty, thanks to the order mentioned above. It is only innuendo and coincidence. The service is fighting this, and hopes to provide more information in the future. Until then, speculation is all that we have. Currently the email service is seeking donations to help fund its legal defense. I would imagine the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) may also help out with this battle.