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Edward Snowden’s secure email service shuts down

Lavabit and Silent Circle are silenced
Fri Aug 09 2013, 10:27
Edward Snowden NSA Prism whistleblower

TWO SECURE EMAIL SERVICES have closed down rather than bend to the whims of the US and its PRISM data demands.

Lavabit and Silent Circle have both closed down their email systems this week, suggesting that they would rather not exist then be part of any court ordered snooping system.

Ladar Levison, owner and operator of Lavabit, the service that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was rumoured to use, posted a message to its website explaining that the decision was not easy. He added that the last six weeks had seen pressure heaped on his business.

"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," said Levison.

"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."

According to Levison an appeal is underway, however, he said that until something changes he could not recommend that anyone uses services that are within arm's length of the US.

"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," he added.

"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."

Over at Silent Circle, a blogpost says that while data requests are common it cannot offer an email system that claims full security.

"We've been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they 'be complicit in crimes against the American people'," said Jon Callas, CTO at the firm and the former CTO of Entrust.

"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now." µ

 

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