The Return of Lavabit

Lavabit logoThis past Friday, when most of the world was watching (or actively not-watching) the events in Washington, D.C., the formerly shuttered, Snowden-affiliated webmail service Lavabit announced it was re-launching with a new generation of email privacy and security.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history, here’s the gist: Lavabit formed in 2004, in part because of privacy concerns around email. They launched as an email service with significant protection and encryption capabilities and served a relatively small group of folk for almost a decade.

Then, in mid-2013, Edward Snowden used a Lavabit address to invite folk to a press conference. Immediately after Edward Snowden revealed his identity as the leaker of classified documents, Lavabit was asked by the U.S. government to provide encryption keys that would have exposed all emails from Lavabit’s entire user base. Rather than complying, Lavabit shut itself down in August, 2013, and began developing an email service that would be more protected from government surveillance.

And that brings us to the present with this announcement from Lavabit’s Owner and Operator, Ladar Levison… Lavabit is back with the release of the Dark Internet Mail Environment (DIME) and its associated free and open source mail-server, Magma. Former users can re-instate their account, new users can pre-register for the next release, and anyone can access the open source tools to implement their own compatible servers. We’re anxious to see how this new technology is put into use – especially given the pivotal role email security is suggested to have played in our recent election.