(2013-08-09) Lavabit Silent Mail Secure Email Shutdown

First: Less than a month after it was identified as the email service that Edward Snowden used to leak NSA documents, Lava Bit has suddenly and mysteriously shuttered... "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."

Then, Silent Circle announces: Silent Mail has thus always been something of a quandary for us. EMail that uses standard Internet protocols cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has. There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the email protocols themselves. Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure. And yet, many people wanted it. Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable. However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now.

While there are many ways to secure email away from prying eyes, including browser extensions, one-off encryption websites and even building your own server, there are only a handful of standalone email services that offer encrypting features for private messaging. Hush Mail, My Kolab, Rise Up, S Mail...

Aug13 update: 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 Lava Bit 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.

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