Award-winning law news blog Groklaw has announced that it is shutting down, saying that it cannot operate under existing US surveillance policies.
The final post announcing Groklaw’s closure from Pamela “PJ” Jones, the site’s founder, follows the decision by the privacy-conscious Lavabit email service earlier this month to shut down its business, rather than adhere to demands by the US authorities.
The owner of Lavabit tells us that he’s stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we’d stop too.
There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.
Jones says she can’t see how Groklaw can promise to maintain contributor’s privacy and anonymity, following the revelations of email surveillance systems like PRISM exposed by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
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.
Jones recommends that the best way to keep your email away from the snooping eyes of the authorities is to use a service like Swiss-based Kolab. Kolab is both based in Switzerland, which has strong privacy protection and data security laws, and houses all its data on servers based in the country - out of the reach of US authorities.
However, even then you would be wise to securely encrypt your messages before they are sent, or they could be intercepted in transit as they waltz their way across the internet. Even if a message is encrypted, its headers will still be readable, allowing snoopers to piece together the pieces of meta-data even if they can’t read the message itself.
You’ll find it hard to live a completely private life on the internet. Something Jones appears to have given up trying to achieve:
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.
It’s very sad to see the demise of Groklaw. Who is next, I wonder?