By Amanda Lynch
Even before Edward Snowden called a press conference using a Lavabit email address, the FBI was interested in the secure email service. Lavabit founder Ladar Levison tried to cater to the savvy consumer: providing private communication in a market where participants are increasingly aware of the government’s access to their data. However, Levison shuttered his email service in August, after receiving a search warrant from the FBI compelling him to turn over Lavabit’s SSL encryption keys. These keys would have exposed not only Snowden’s data, but also that of 400,000 other users. As Levison said of the FBI in a recent talk, “They didn’t understand the industry implications.” Levison’s case is now before the Fourth Circuit, suggesting not only commercial but also legal implications.