Lavabit was an encrypted email service founded in 2004, and was used by Edward Snowden. The service was shut down on August 8th, 2014 after the FBI requested the SSL private keys to surveil Snowden.
Due to the unconstitutional and privacy-infringing request of the government, Lavabit closed the service in August of 2014 causing a large legal battle. Lavabit founder Ladar Levision refused to be a part of the criminal surveillance. The Guardian reported, “after 38 days of legal fighting, a court appearance, subpoena, appeals and being found in contempt of court, Levison abruptly shuttered Lavabit citing government interference and stating that he would not become “complicit in crimes against the American people.”
Levision’s goal was to create the most secure and privacy-minded email service. At the time of shutdown Lavabit had 410,000 users. The forced shutdown left all of the users unable to access their accounts. After being out of commission for 3 years, Dark Internet Mail Environment (DIME) was launched by the same Lavabit team. Levision’s blog post announcing the service stated, “DIME is the only automated, federated, encryption standard designed to work with different service providers while minimizing the leakage of metadata without a centralized authority”
The server used by DIME is said to be easy to setup, therefore regardless of technical abilities, one can launch their encrypted email service relatively easily. The new Dark Mail service by the Lavabit team is open source and more information can be found here.