howzey Last week, a United States federal appellate court unsealed a set of documents pertaining to Lavabit, the e-mail provider of choice for former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The documents show that Lavabit’s founder, Ladar Levison, strongly resisted government pressure that would have resulted in the privacy of all users being compromised as a way to get at Snowden’s e-mail. Levinson went so far as to shutter the company, destroying its servers entirely. “People using my service trusted me to safeguard their online identities and protect their information,” Levison wrote in a press release last Wednesday. “I simply could not betray that trust.” The Lavabit case is the best known example of a company willing to go to extreme lengths in order to protect its customers’ privacy. Since Lavabit has fallen (as has Silent Circle’s Silent Mail service), many journalists and business people have speculated that foreign e-mail providers might have policies that would theoretically be more resistant to government intrusion, particularly in Europe and especially in Germany and Switzerland, which have strong data protection and privacy laws. 4     

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