THE PROPRIETOR OF SECURE EMAIL SERVICE Lavabit has raised $50,000 in legal defence funding to fight a Kafkaesque legal case.
Ladar Levinson closed the secure email service in August and blamed oppressive government for the 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," he said.
"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."
Levinson has a funding target of $96,000, and is asking for public donations. He said that he wants to defend the right to keep email private and support his service, which was used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"We at Lavabit have started preparing the paperwork needed to continue fighting for the Constitution in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me to resurrect Lavabit as an American company," he said on the fundraising campaign page. "Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit [defence] fund."
The campaign has 1,177 backers and over a thousand likes on Facebook. It started this Monday.
Levinson is due to file his initial appeal brief on 3 October, according to the Guardian. The newspaper has seen court documents from the case so far and said that these show a series of demands from the FBI for access to content.
Wired goes further and traces how Levinson resisted attempts, up to a point, to hand over access to users' accounts and supplied private SSL keys in an 11 page printout in 4pt type. This was described as illegible.
Levinson has also posted a statement on his Facebook page. He said that the suspension of Lavabit has eliminated his main source of income, adding that the service closed down with 410,000 registered users, of which "approximately 10,000 were paying $8 or $16 a year for premium features like encrypted storage". µ
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