“If you knew what I know about email, you might not use it either”

“This is about protecting all of our users, not just one in particular. It’s not my place to decide whether an investigation is just, but the government has the legal authority to force you to do things you’re uncomfortable with,” said Levison in a phone call on Friday. “The fact that I can’t talk about this is as big a problem as what they asked me to do.”…

He says he’ll only start operating again if his case sets a precedent. “It needs to be clear that the government can’t do what they’re trying to do,” said Levison. “Otherwise the same request is going to come right back at us. Other big names aren’t able to shut down in protest. I’m one person without a bunch of employees to support. If we win, we win for everyone.”

He says that win would be important for other U.S. businesses. “If there were surveillance bugs in all products coming out of China, would you buy those products?” he asks.

If the shutdown is a permanent one, Levison would be walking away from $50,000 to $100,000 in annual revenue, his primary source of income. He also walked away from his personal email address, which was shut down along with all the other Lavabit accounts.