Groklaw blog closes citing surveillance threat

Top tech law blogger Pamela Jones draws shutters saying there is no way to do Groklaw without email.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor on

One of techland's most famous blogsites, Groklaw, is apparently closing down due to the threat of email surveillance.

Founder Pamela Jones has posted saying she has spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to continue.

"And the conclusion I've reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad," she wrote. "But it's good to be realistic. And the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how 'clean' we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don't know how to do Groklaw like this."

Groklaw rose to fame for its coverage of the SCO intellectual property lawsuits against the likes of IBM and Novell. It went on to cover a host of other cases, often defining the interface between open source and proprietary software.

"They tell us that if you send or receive an email from outside the US, it will be read. If it's encrypted, they keep it for five years, presumably in the hopes of tech advancing to be able to decrypt it against your will and without your knowledge. Groklaw has readers all over the world.

"I'm not a political person, by choice, and I must say, researching the latest developments convinced me of one thing - I am right to avoid it."

Jones was an electronic Frontiers Foundation Pioneer Award winner in 2010. 

"You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say?" Jones wrote. "Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel.

"So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate."

Jones wrote that she has shifted her email to a Swiss provider.

"My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it's possible. I'm just an ordinary person. But I really know, after all my research and some serious thinking things through, that I can't stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I've always been a private person. That's why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours."

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