Lavabit founder could be arrested for not keeping his business going
NBC reports that senior US Attorney James Trump sent Lavabit founder Ladar Levison and his lawyer a veiled arrest threat when Levison shut down his private email service (used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden) rather than comply with a secret order to spy on his customers. Nothing more can be said definitively, because the order to Levison came with a gag order prohibiting Levison from discussing it. Everyone is pretty sure that Levison was served with a National Security Letter.
This gives additional context to the decision of Lavabit competitor Silent Circle to pre-emptively shut down its own private email service as well, in advance of any sort of court order. If a secret court can issue a secret order requiring you to spy on your customers, and if shutting down the service will land you in jail, then simply not operating the kind of service that spooks find snoopworthy is the only option.
So where does this stop, exactly?
Suppose Snowden or some other target goes -- or is, by the Stasi, alleged to go, or, possibly, alleged to possibly go at some future date -- to an Internet café and uses their connection. Is the Internet café required to keep their WiFi service going indefinitely? Is the Internet cafe forbidden to shut down? All so the Stasi can throw a tap on the target's mail whenever they want? Are they obliged to run at a loss?