Technology law site Groklaw, which has won awards for its informative content often collaborated from emailed user tips and expertise, has shut down. Pamela Jones, the founder and site owner, has cited the fundamental lack of privacy on the web today as her reasoning behind the decision.
Jones wrote an impassioned article that was published early this morning. In it, she explains that it will be the final post published on the site, and that you have the National Security Agency to thank.
In the goodbye article she recalls her time first living in New York, when a burglar broke into her apartment and rifled through her belongings. She felt violated and betrayed, no help offered from the authorities and her neighbors casually speculating that it was the janitor’s son as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
That, Jones claims, is how she feels about the government surveillance and the scope of their spying.
“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.”
Through her own research, she has found a couple of more direct details about the PRISM program. For one, if you are getting any email fro outside the US, it will be read. If you send or receive anything encrypted, it will immediately be held for five years in hopes of technology improving to allow them to break into the message.
Just the sheer level of violation this kind of thing points to is getting worst and worst. As she says in the post, if you are online you are exposed. There is little choice but to get off the web, and because Groklaw relies so heavily on email communication once assumed private, she can no longer run the site.
The deeper this goes the more helpless it makes you feel, doesn’t it? We are being watched, which means all communication you have had with family, friends and professional contacts is subject to have been read. Everything you do on the web is being monitored. An environment of suspicion and fear is overtaking the country. None of these things are good signs.