I am Ladar Levison, owner and operator of Lavabit, ask me almost anything.
I am Ladar Levison, the owner and operator of Lavabit LLC. Lavabit served as a place for people signup for secure and private email accounts. By August of 2013 I had grown Lavabit to over 410,000 users, with approximately 10,000 paid subscribers.
I created Lavabit because I believe that privacy is a fundamental, and necessary right for a free and fair democracy to function. On August 8, 2013, I made a difficult decision. I shut down my email business and refused "to become complicit in crimes against the American people." I continue to use the publicity generated by that decision to vigorously advocate for the Internet privacy rights of all Americans.
I personally wrote the 50K+ lines of code that were used to power Lavabit's service. Currently I'm working with the godfather of email cryptography Phil Zimmerman, and his partner in crime Jon Callas (among others) at Silent Circle to create a permanent technical solution to the email privacy problem. Our effort is called "dark mail."
I'm also continuing the fight in court, by appealing the demand for Lavabit's SSL keys. On the political front I'm working to promote a permanent solution to the privacy problem by encouraging positive Congressional action.
When I was deciding whether to shutdown the decision really boiled down to whether users would prefer to have their have emails secretly snooped, or simply lose the service altogether. Since the court prevented me from telling anyone, I had to make that decision alone. Without the benefit of feedback from friends and users. I chose to shutdown.