Death Before NSA Dishonor: Encrypted Services Stage Suicide Revolt

The encrypted email service provider Silent Circle has followed its competitor Lavabit who on Thursday announced it would shutter its services rather than be compelled by the US government to hand over the private data and emails from its customers, one of whom is believed to be NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“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.” –Lavabit founder Lavar Levinson

Supporters of internet freedom and privacy protections were shocked at the news, but also expressing gratitude for what they see as a service provider choosing the protections of it own customers over the threat of lost profits or requests by the government that they deemed inappropriate and unconstitutional.

As Reuters reports:

“Given the impressive powers of the government to obtain emails and records from service providers, both with and without legal authority, it is encouraging to see service providers take steps to limit their ability to access user data,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl in a web posting.

Thursday afternoon, it was Lavabit founder and director Lavar Levinson, who release this statement exlpaining why the service would be shut down:

“It’s rare to see an email provider choose to go out of business rather than compromise its values,” said Opsahl. “It must have been a hard decision for Ladar Levison, but he remained true to his promise to put privacy before profits. It was also hard on the users, some of whom lost access to email not available elsewhere.”

As the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reports, “[Edward] Snowden was allegedly a Lavabit customer. A Lavabit email address believed to come from Snowden invited reporters to a press conference at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in mid-July.”