This summer, company founder Ladar Levison shut down
his secure email service, Lavabit
, rather than comply with data requests from the NSA
. There is a widespread assumption that Lavabit was the email service used by whistleblower Edward Snowden
, so any requests that Lavabit received were perhaps more targeted than most.
One issue with Levison’s decision to shutter Lavabit was that he did so without notifying his users, and they were therefore unable to retrieve their own data and contacts, but Levison says he has reinstated the service
for a 72-hour window in which his former users can get back in and grab what they need. The window is open now and will remain open until Thursday, October 17th at 7pm Central.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (Credit: The Guardian)
Levison has also now been able to share details of what happened to make him feel the need to blow up Lavabit in the first place.
“During an investigation into several Lavabit user accounts, the federal government demanded both unfettered access to all user communications and a copy of the Lavabit encryption keys used to secure web, instant message and email traffic,” wrote Levison. A judge was about to send out a $5,000 per day contempt of court fine to Lavabit to force Levison to cough up encryption keys, so he took the nuclear option.
He also noted that not only would the government be able to see passwords, financial information, and messages, it would have been able to track users’ IP addresses, as well. The Lavabit situation seems a bit sensational, but there certainly appears to be a lot of truth here as well. Levison is indeed in a legal fight, and if the NSA suspects that Snowden emails are stashed in Lavabit somewhere, surely they’ll pull out all the stops to dig them up.