The site has been replaced with a splash page, which starts:
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.
Lavabit was an encrypted and private email service that I had previously written about. It’s main competitor seems to be HushMail — which has been known to turn over records when compelled to do so (but it is tough for the US to get those because the US must ask Canada to compel HushMail). I hope this works out for Lavabit — I wasn’t a huge fan of their service, but this is a shitty way to treat businesses.
UPDATE: It seems fair to draw the conclusion that this may have to do with the fact that Edward Snowden purportedly used Lavabit, per this article on Global Post:
The note, which could not be verified, requested the attendance of a slew of well-known rights workers and lawyers “for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation,” according to a copy of the invitation posted Lokshina.
It was sent from the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” according to Lokshina’s post, and signed “Edward Joseph Snowden.”
I do want to mention that I suspect that if Snowden did use Lavabit it was so that he could send slightly more secure email communications to journalists who were not using PGP. Lavabit correspondence (as I understand it) is encrypted if sent between Lavabit accounts. Sending to a non-Lavabit account helps because the transmission from the client (or web interface) would be encrypted, and only unencrypted once it left Lavabit servers to reach the recipient servers. That means that Snowden’s location details and other such goodies would have been masked (I am guessing), but the email not encrypted — again, with my knowledge of how the service did work.
It seems logical that if the reporting is true, that the U.S. would demand access to the Lavabit servers for that information, knowing the information would likely not be anything useful. Which is just even more frustrating given that it effectively forced Lavabit to close down.
(via Jan Dusek on App.net)
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