In mid-July, Tanya Lokshina, the deputy director for Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office, wrote on her Facebook wall that she had received an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org.
It requested that she attend a press conference at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport to discuss the N.S.A. leaker’s “situation.” This was the wider public’s introduction to Lavabit, an e-mail service prized for its security. Lavabit promised, for instance, that messages stored on the service using asymmetric encryption, which encrypts incoming e-mails before they’re saved on Lavabit’s servers, could not even be read by Lavabit itself.
Yesterday, Lavabit went dark. In a cryptic statement posted on the Web site, the service’s owner and operator, Ladar Levison, wrote, “I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.” Those experiences led him to shut down the service rather than, as he put it, “become complicit in crimes against the American people.”