Lavabit, the e-mail service reportedly used by Edward Snowden, goes dark

The Lavabit notice was followed by a similar announcement from another encrypted e-mail service, Silent Circle. 

An encrypted email service believed to have been used by American fugitive Edward Snowden shut down abruptly August 8, 2013, amid a legal fight that appeared to involve US government attempts to win access to customer information.

Lavabit, the encrypted e-mail program reportedly used by Edward Snowden, has gone dark. 

In a message posted yesterday to the Lavabit site, founder Ladar Levison said he decided to suspend service "after significant soul searching." Although Levison did not go into detail on his reasoning – he seemed to hint that he was legally prohibited from doing so – it is widely believed that he is currently working to stave off some kind of court order involved with Mr. Snowden's leaking case. 

"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," Mr. Levison wrote to users. "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." 

Levison says he would file an appeal, which might allow him to "resurrect Lavabit as an American company." In addition, he's established a Lavabit Legal Defense Fund. 

In related news, Silent Circle, another encrypted e-mail service first launched in 2012, has also decided to power down. Although Silent Circle has not been linked to Snowden or the NSA leaks, in a notice to users, the site's operators signaled in a open letter that they are acting preemptively, apparently in case they are slapped with a gag order by the US government. 

"We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail," the message reads. "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now." 

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