Instead of assisting the U.S. government in its quest for more information on Edward Snowden and his use of secure email, the founder of encrypted email service Lavabit shut down his site.
Just for that action, he’s reportedly been threatened with criminal charges, according to Michael Isikoff at NBC News.
“I could be arrested for this action,” Levison told NBC.
The action he refers to is one he made on Aug. 9: completely pulling the plug on his company to avoid becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people.”
NBC has more:
Lavabit said he was barred by federal law from elaborating on the order or any of his communications with federal prosecutors. But a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison’s lawyer last Thursday — the day Lavabit was shuttered — stating that Levison may have “violated the court order,” a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court.
The company was started in 2004 in response to what Lavabit’s founders described as privacy violations by Gmail.
Wrote our own Geoffrey Ingersoll:
“At the time, Lavabit’s founders felt Gmail was a great service but that Google was actively violating the privacy of its users by displaying ads related to keywords in their e-mail,” says the Lavabit official website.
So a few Texas programmers with a self-described “maniacal level of dedication” and “experience building mission critical systems” started a company called Nerdshack LLC, which then changed to Lavabit in 2005.
Neither the U.S. Attorney’s Office or James Trump responded to a request for comment from NBC.