Moxie Marlinspike is a cryptographer, software developer, and security researcher who regularly appears at the Black Hat security conferences. His critique of HTTPS Web encryption has led browser makers to change the way they implement it.

He is also developer of the TextSecure and RedPhone Android apps for encrypting text messages and voice calls. In 2011, Twitter bought his encryption startup Whisper Systems for an undisclosed sum.

The pseudonymously named Marlinspike originally posted this editorial on his ThoughtCrime.org blog. In August of this year, Ladar Levison shut down his e-mail service, Lavabit, in an attempt to avoid complying with a US government request for his users’ e-mails. To defy the US government’s gag order and shut down his service took great courage, and I believe that Ladar deserves our support in his legal defense of that decision.

There is now an effort underway to restart the Lavabit project, however, which might be a good opportunity to take a critical look at the service itself.

After all, how is it possible that a service which wasn’t supposed to have access to its users’ e-mails found itself in a position where it had no other option but to shut down in an attempt to avoid complying with a request for the contents of its users’ e-mails? 9     

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