Lavabit CEO quits email entirely

The CEO of the encrypted email service Lavabit, which NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden used, has said he’s quit using email entirely and that others would consider the same if they knew what he knows.

Lavabit shut down the entire service while under pressure from the US administration to compromise its integrity.  A gagging order prevents Levison from disclosing the full nature of the government’s inquiry.

Speaking with Forbes, Lavabit CEO Ladar Levison said the move was about “protecting all of our users, not just one in particular”.

“It’s not my place to decide whether an investigation is just,” Levison added, “but the government has the legal authority to force you to do things you’re uncomfortable with. The fact that I can’t talk about this is as big a problem as what they asked me to do.”

“I’m taking a break from email,” he said. “If you knew what I know about email, you might not use it either.”

Meanwhile, Levison’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, said it’s “ridiculous” he has to be so careful when speaking about the government inquiry. “In America, we’re not supposted to have to worry about watching our words like this when we’re talking to the press,” Binnall said, speaking with Forbes.

Although Levison is appealing the government request, he said there is not much point restoring the service unless the case sets a precedent, and that it is made clear the “government can’t do what they’re trying to do”.