Back in August we reported that Lavabit, the secure email service had shut down due to government pressure. Since the owner of Lavabit was under a (ridiculous) gag order, he could not explain to his users or the public what was going on and simply shut down the service without a specific reason. He did leave a note on the site explaining the rationale for what he had to do, but he couldn’t give any concrete details due to the legal consequences.
Now that we’ve gotten our hands on a redacted copy of some of the documents pertaining to the Lavabit case, we can see why the owner simply shut down the site. They required that he provide names, addresses, records of session times, length of service, MAC addresses, IP addresses and virtually any data that could possibly be gathered by Lavabit on a user. Obviously, they were trying to figure out things about Edward Snowden’s account, which was rumored to be at Lavabit since it was rumored that he had used Lavabit for his secure communications.
The FBI also wanted Mr. Levison to provide them with the SSL Keys to his 2048-bit encryption that he was running the site off of. Furthermore, the documents we obtained stated that Mr. Levison would be levied a fine of $5,000 per day if he did not comply with the order requiring them to be supplied on August 5th starting on August 6th, meaning that the site shutdown on August 8th was a direct result of that court order. So, he complied and then shut down the site.
You can also see that over the course of June, July and August, Mr. Levison took every measure he could legally do in order to delay the shutdown of his site and to protect the privacy of his users. He even went as far as to trying to respond to some of their official documents in an illegible font.
We have the entire PDF attached for you here, since the original Dropbox link we grabbed it from is mysteriously down.