Edward Snowden’s Chosen Email Provider Shuts Down Due to Federal Pressure

Edward Snowden’s personal email provider Lavabit has shuttered its email service, active immediately. Instead of complying with government orders, the email service provider ended all email service on Thursday and is continuing the fight in appeals court. Further, the company is under federal gag orders, presumably from US secret courts, to remain silent on the details.

Here is the posted message from Lavabit’s CEO Ladar Levison detailing the decision:

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.

Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.


Following Lavabit’s shutdown, Silent Circle, another encrypted email provider, also closed its doors:

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.

This means that any email service or company associated with the US is probably being monitored or is under legal obligation to be monitored. Even with encrypted messages, court orders can force companies to reveal private information through private court orders – ones that you will never see or legally be shown.