Having Edward Snowden as a customer brought Ladar Levison into a battle with his own government.
Recommend: go to the URL to listen to the podcast of the interview
(Note: the interview originally aired Oct 11, 2013.)
While you may not be familiar with Ladar Levison or his email service, Lavabit, you’ve certainly heard about one of its users. His e-mail address was firstname.lastname@example.org. We hear from the man who got caught up in a legal battle with his own government for running an e-mail service, and his fight for privacy.
“They were able to map out the patterns of communications…with whom Brazilian officials were speaking, who was calling them, how long they were speaking for, and what their network of association was…”
Last October, journalist Glenn Greenwald dropped a bombshell when he told our colleagues at As It Happens that Canadian officials spy on members of Brazil’s government. Mr. Greenwald says it was information he received from Edward Snowden, the former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency.
Last summer, Mr. Snowden went public with the details of a sprawling, NSA campaign to monitor phone calls, e-mails and web searches.
Snowden was a customer of a small secure e-mail provider called Lavabit, owned by entrepreneur Ladar Levison. Having Snowden as a customer brought Levison into a battle with the U.S. government, one that would test his resolve, as well as his principles.
“I feel there’s a sacred trust between a user and a service provider. “
Ladar Levison was summoned to a grand jury, held in contempt of court, fined thousands of dollars and threatened with arrest. In the end, he decided the best course of action was just to shut-down his business.
“Overnight, I went from being a small business owner to a political activist.”
Ladar Levinson was able to speak publicly about this because a U.S. court lifted the gag order on his case last October.
This interview originally aired on October 11th, 2013