Groklaw Follows Lavabit, Shuts Down to Avoid Betraying Users to NSA

2013-08-20 Groklaw

Gizmodo has a really ominous piece on the recent shutdown of Groklaw. It’s ominous because unlike Lavabit or Silent Cirlce which help users exchange secure emails, Groklaw is not primarily a platform for individual user communication. It is–or it was–“an award-winning website covering legal news of interest to the free and open source software community” (Wikipedia).

There’s no indication that the NSA was gunning for Groklaw in particular. Founder Pamela Jones simply explains that, in a world where emails are not private, there’s no way to carry on the collaborative communication necessary for the site to continue its 10-year tradition. She goes even farther, writing:

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 [because] it’s not possible to be fully human if you are being surveilled 24/7.

An extreme reaction? Maybe. But Jones’s reaction underscores the simple reality that the Internet is first, foremost, and last about communication. The NSA’s snooping could never have been confined to only secure email providers even if that was their intent (not that it was). Shake the foundation, and the whole edifice trembles.