Groklaw shutting down due to government surveillance

The award-winning and much respectable website Groklaw which covers legal news around free and open source software and provides critical information in complex cases is shutting down.

Groklaw played a very pivotal role during the SCO-Linux case, Micorosft’s lawsuite in Europe, Micrsoft’s OOXML standardization and then it’s once again providing users with better understanding of the Android – Oracle lawsuit. The site plays a very important role to fight FUD spreading Microsoft backed blogs like FOSSPatents.

But why is Groklaw shutting down?
Pamela Jones, the founder of the blog has expressed concerns around the surveillance by the US government. Recently Lavabit announced that they are shutting down their operations. Then it’s competitor Silenct Circle also announced to close all operations.

These two sites offer extremely secure and privacy enhanced email services. These sites chose to shut down their operations instead of bending to the US government and letting them access to their users data.

Jones quoted some excerpts from a book by Janna Malamud Smith,”Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life”

One function of privacy is to provide a safe space away from terror or other assaultive experiences. When you remove a person’s ability to sequester herself, or intimate information about herself, you make her extremely vulnerable…

The totalitarian state watches everyone, but keeps its own plans secret. Privacy is seen as dangerous because it enhances resistance. Constantly spying and then confronting people with what are often petty transgressions is a way of maintaining social control and unnerving and disempowering opposition….

She then said that Groklaw can’t operate because there is no shield, no protection:

I hope that makes it clear why I can’t continue. There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the US out or to the US in, but really anywhere. 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? Constricted and distracted. That’s it exactly. That’s how I feel.

She further said:

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.

Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world’s economy would collapse, I suppose. I can’t really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over.
So this is the last Groklaw article. I won’t turn on comments. Thank you for all you’ve done. I will never forget you and our work together. I hope you’ll remember me too. I’m sorry I can’t overcome these feelings, but I yam what I yam, and I tried, but I can’t.

Sad to see you go Groklaw!

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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