A version of this post appears on GOOD.is.
In recent weeks the Lavabit email service has become almost as notorious as its most infamous client, Edward Snowden.
While at his old job as a National Security Agency contractor, Snowden leaked classified documents, allegedly via a Lavabit email account, about the agency’s mass-surveillance programs. Federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage, and he lived at the Moscow airport until Russia granted him temporary asylum in early August.
Around the same time Ladar Levison, the founder of Lavabit, suspended the company’s services. Under a gag order at the time, he explained that he preferred to close up shop rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” He has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal expenses as he fights to maintain the privacy of his 400,000 customers’ accounts. He has raised more than $75,000 so far.
Court records unsealed on Thursday revealed what privacy advocates and tech pundits had suspected: In mid-July, about three weeks before Levison shut down his company, the U.S. government issued a search warrant demanding that he turn over crypto keys that guarded all web traffic to Lavabit. He has refused FBI orders to divulge details about Snowden’s email activities and has said that he would not allow the U.S. government access to his clients’ information.
To support this Rally and learn more about Lavabit’s upcoming legal battles, visit rally.org/lavabit.