Alex Hern
The Guardian
Oct. 11, 2013

Lavabit’s founder has filed the opening brief in his appeal against a court order forcing him to turn over the keys to his secure email service’s encryption.

Ladar Levison, who set up Lavabit in 2004, was commanded to turn over the encryption keys in electronic format by the district court for the eastern district of Virginia. When he refused, the court found him in contempt, and instituted a fine of $5,000 a day until he complied.

Levison handed over the data, but closed his business to protect his customers’ information. “The government would still be able to use Lavabit’s private keys to decrypt and access data that it had already intercepted (including customers’ usernames, passwords, and the contents of their emails),” the appeal details, “but Lavabit was forbidden from communicating this security breach to its customers or business partners.”

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