During the summer, secure email provider Lavabit — the preferred email service for PRISM leaker Edward Snowden — decided to shut down after 10 years to avoid being "complicit in crimes against the American people." It became clear pretty quickly that his service was the subject of an investigation by the US government; founder Ladar Levison said that "the government tried to bully me" and that it was "amazing the lengths they've gone to to accomplish their goals." Much of the specifics have been kept under wraps, even as his legal battle to appeal a surveillance order went underway earlier this month. Now, Wired has confirmed that the FBI targeted Lavabit immediately — it served the company with a court order the day after Snowden revealed himself on June 9th.
The agency reportedly demanded metatata on an unnamed customer believed to be Snowden on June 10th. Wired writes that the request was "issued under18 USC 2703(d), a 1994 amendment to the Stored Communications Act that allows law enforcement access to non-content internet records without demonstrating the "probable cause" needed for a search warrant." While the request would cover data contained in the "to" and "from" fields as well as the IP address related to the account, the actual content of the email would not have been revealed.
A second request was sent on June 28th for the same information demanded originally, and then the FBI followed up with an "order to show cause" on July 9th — that's the government asking the court to enforce a previous order that hasn't been filled to its satisfaction. It was nearly another month before Levison finally decided to shut down Lavabit. He then filed an appeal on August 29th and is due to give his opening brief on October 3rd.