Lavabit founder Ladar Levison tells Democracy Now he had no choice but to shut down his email service without notice over government requests for user information, after Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to expose NSA surveillance program. He said his service wasn’t the first to receive a government request, but Lavabit was the “first service provide to take a different approach.”
And it could very well be because of our size that we have that option. We’re wholly focused on secure email. Without it, we have no business. You take a much larger provider with a greater number of employees, and shutting down a major section of their company, when they have to answer to shareholders, may not be a viable option.
Levison told Democracy Now he decided to speak out because he hopes to “prompt Congress to act and change the laws that put me in this circumstance to begin with.” Though he could not say which laws affected Lavabit and factored into his decision to shut down. Levison added, “unless we take actions to ensure that, you know, we can continue to operate secure, private services, I think we’re going to lose a lot of business over the next few years. And I think all the major providers, not just Lavabit, have gone on record to say the same.”