This marks yet another encrypted email service to bite the dust.
Another encrypted email service has gone offline.
In a blog post this morning, Silent Circle founder Jon Callas abruptly announced the closing of Silent Mail, the company's encrypted email service that allows people to send messages in such a way that eavesdroppers or hackers cannot read them.
Government efforts to read encrypted emails have had a chilling effect on the companies that provide the secure email services. After noting that other major encrypted email services were shutting down, Callas wrote, "We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now." The reason? To protect those using the service.
Callas wrote that Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Eyes -- Silent Circle's text, phone and video services -- are still "end-to-end secure." Email, though, is a different story: "Email that uses standard Internet protocols cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has. There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the email protocols themselves," Callas wrote.
Last week, popular encrypted service TorMail went offline after Irish authorities arrested the man who is reportedly the email service's hosting provider. And on Thursday night, Lavabit, Edward Snowden's one-time email service, suddenly shut down.
Callas assured Silent Circle subscribers that Silent Mail has "not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government." He was considering a gradual shut-down of Silent Mail, he wrote, but was inspired by Lavabit's decisive shuttering.
However, Silent Circle CEO Michael Janke admitted to TechCrunch that the government was interested in some of the service's high-profile clients.
There are some very high-profile people on Silent Circle- -- and I mean very targeted people -- as well as heads of state, human rights groups, reporters, special operations units from many countries. We wanted to be proactive because we knew USG [the U.S. government] would come after us due to the sheer amount of people who use us, let alone the highly targeted high-profile people.