For the last 10 years, if you wanted to understand a complex legal issue in the news, your first stop was Groklaw. A free, open-source exchange of theories and ideas, Groklaw has been an invaluable resource for lawyers and laymen alike. Last night, its owner pulled the plug. It was a matter of privacy.
In an emotional post last night, Groklaw founder Pamela Jones laid out her reasons for shuttering her internet legal salon. In the face of government pressures placed on email providers like Lavabit and Silent Circle — and those sites’ decision to shut down rather than give up their clients’ information to the feds — she decided to pull the plug preemptively. Groklaw couldn’t operate, she explained, without email. And email is no longer safe (if it ever was):
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. There is a scripture that says, It doesn’t belong to man even to direct his step. And it’s true. I see now clearly that it’s true. Humans are just human, and we Gro don’t know what to do in our own lives half the time, let alone how to govern other humans successfully. And it shows. What form of government hasn’t been tried? None of them satisfy everyone. So I think we did that experiment. I don’t expect great improvement.
That was from Jones’s last Groklaw post. No comments are allowed on it. There won’t be any follow-ups.
Jones, in fact, isn’t just giving up Groklaw; she’s attempting to “get off of the internet to the degree it’s possible”. She’s switching her email account over to Kolab, a secure service with roots in Switzerland, and therefore (presumably, hopefully) safe from the NSA’s prying eyes. Otherwise, she’s going off the grid. Or trying to at least.
In the meantime, this is in some ways an even more troubling a turn than the losses of Lavabit and Silent Circle, both because of Groklaw’s much broader user base and the implications of a preemptive departure. And even that pales in comparison to the information loss; if Groklaw isn’t around anymore to explain the mess we’re in, who can? [Groklaw]