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Lavabit founder faces a Kafkaesque nightmare

Tangled up since shutting down Snowden’s selected email service
Fri Aug 23 2013, 12:23

THE CHAP than ran the email service used by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has been thrown into a legal maze ever since he shut it down.

Ladar Levison said earlier this month that he would close down Lavabit, and blamed outside forces for his decision.

"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," he said.

"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."

His hands are still tied according to a report at the Guardian and his legal entanglement has turned into a Kafkaesque nightmare.

"I walked away from 10 years of my life, tens of thousands of man hours that I had yet to benefit from. I had to choose whether or not to compromise my ethics and my moral code to stay in business or do what I thought was right and shut down the business," he said.

"If it's illegal to offer a private way to communicate to Americans, I didn't want to remain in the email business. I think our constitution guarantees our right to communicate privately without fear of government surveillance. But the fact is Congress has passed laws that say otherwise."

Levinson would not confirm that he has been sent a letter demanding him to reopen Lavabit for inspection, and is stuck in a position where he cannot talk about what is happening to him in any respect.

His is not the only service to close down in the wake of NSA internet surveillance revelations and both Silent Circle, another email provider, and Groklaw a legal education blog have shut down recently. µ


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