Lavabit reopens temporarily

October 17, 2013 02:17 am | Updated June 02, 2016 02:44 am IST

Lavabit, the encrypted email service once used by NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, is open for business once more at least until Thursday, October 17.

Ladar Levison, Lavabits founder, shuttered the service after the FBI demanded he hand over encryption keys that would potentially have given U.S. authorities access to all his customers’ data.

Levison said in a statement on Monday night that he was temporarily reinstating the service for 72 hours in order to give customers time to access their information. The move became possible after Levison obtained a new secure SSL key for Lavabit to authenticate his server and encrypt data travelling to and from the site. “For those who used Lavabit’s email service, they were left without a way to access information after the shutdown,” the statement read. When asked about how his users felt about the loss of personal data, Levison said: “I’m in the same boat as them. I used my Lavabit email account for 10 years. It was my only email account.’” The tech entrepreneur is currently tied up in a legal battle with the U.S. authorities over the closure of his service. In court documents filed last week, Levison’s lawyers claimed the U.S. authorities’ demands for the encryption keys to his service had breached the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution, which protects citizens from unfair searches. Levison closed Lavabit in August, signing off with a note that said he had been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. The service had over 400,000 users at the time of its closure. Court records show that Lavabit had become the target of FBI scrutiny before Snowden sent an email from his Lavabit account inviting media to a press conference in Moscow on July 12 after his flight from Hong Kong.

Levison’s legal fight has won support from figures including Ron Paul, the former senator and presidential candidate. A legal fund has been set up to meet the costs of his case and has so far raised over $93,000.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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