Lavabit: ‘If the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore’

Lavabit: ‘If the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed ...

Late last week, Snowden’s reported use of email encryption service Lavabit led to the business closing down under pressure from the US government. Lavabit owner Ladar Levison today said if the American people knew what the US government was doing, they would stop it.

Levison has said before that he is prohibited from disclosing why he had to shut down Lavabit. In fact, he says he cannot legally share with his users and everyone else the details of the events that led to his decision, even though he supposedly asked the US government twice for permission.

Nevertheless, here’s what he said today in an interview with Democracy Now (the relevant section starts at minute 33):

Here is the quote in question: “Unfortunately, I can’t talk about that. I would like to, believe me,” Levison says. “I think if the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore.”

This is not the first time Levison has given his opinion about what happened to his company and the broader issue that has been underlined, despite the fact that he was allegedly told to keep his mouth shut. Here are some notable quotes:

On August 12, during a telephone interview with The New York Times:

I’ve always sort of believed it’s important for Americans to have private conversations with other Americans and not fear that their conversations were being monitored by the government. My principal concern was to give people the ability to communicate privately. When I was no longer able to do that I felt I had the obligation to shut down the service.

On August 10, as part of a Q&A with CNET:

For me it wasn’t about protecting a single user, but protecting the privacy of all my users, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t able to discuss it publicly.
I believe that people have the right to know what their government is doing. I had an issue with me doing what they wanted me to do without them disclosing it.
We’ve had a couple of dozen court orders served to us over the past 10 years, but they’ve never crossed the line…

Lastly, from the announcement that kicked off this whole saga:

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

We’ll continue to monitor this story as it develops.

See also – Silent Circle follows Lavabit in closing its encrypted email service because it’s ‘better to be safe than sorry’

Top Image Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

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