Two companies that provide communication encryption services to businesses and individuals have ceased operation on the same day and have apparently been instructed to do so by the secretive FISA court. According to the New York Times, both Lavabit and Silent Circle suddenly and rather mysteriously closed business within hours of each other. While Silent Circle will continue its other anti-NSA services encrypting phone calls and text messages, their email service is closed and they have physically destroyed their servers.
Mike Janke, Silent Circle’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview late Thursday that his company had destroyed its server. “Gone. Can’t get it back. Nobody can,” he said. “We thought it was better to take flak from customers than be forced to turn it over.”
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Just what would drive a seemingly successful start-up with a bright future to shut down a popular business and literally destroy their servers? The small bit of communication from Lavabit to its customers regarding their closure suggests just how important it must have been for the government to close these businesses.
Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, suggested — though did not say explicitly — that he had received a search order, and was opting to shut the service so as not to be “complicit in crimes against the American people.”
“After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations,” he wrote. “I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on — the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”