Private email service Lavabit chooses to quit rather than submit

Lavabit, a private email service currently best known for being NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's communication medium of choice, has suddenly and unexpectedly announced it's shutting down, hinting it would rather do that than comply with something it claims it's not even allowed to talk about. Ladar Levison, owner and operator, on the Lavabit home 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.

And this bit at the end:

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.

Apple, which we use for iCloud mail, has physical ties to the U.S. Google, which we use for Gmail, has physical ties to the U.S. Microsoft for Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo! and the list goes on. Companies not shutting down and not leaving the U.S. may very well be capitulating to demands that violate the basic tenants of trust and privacy, two of the cornerstones of any consumer relationship.

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Then again, which country could any such company go where they wouldn't be subject to the same spying, foreign and domestic? The NSA is by no means the only signal intelligence service in the world, and likely not the agency with the freest reign to surveil both their own citizens and others.

Privacy likely died the day the internet came online. Operating in shadows, however, leads to rot. Hopefully more information comes to light, so everyone can make better informed decisions, either way.

Source: Lavabit, thanks G!

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