Award-winning FOSS legal site shuts down on fears of government surveillance.
The U.S. site Groklaw.net, which has documented the contours of the high-tech legal landscape for more than 10 years, is officially closing its doors.
Groklaw founder Pamela Jones, known throughout the FOSS community as PJ, posted a farewell message on August 20 that begins, "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 goes on to explain that the climate of surveillance caused by Internet monitoring by U.S. intelligence means that she cannot guarantee the confidentiality of her sources. Without confidentiality, she cannot expect anonymous informants and off-the-record contacts to continue to provide information to the site. With the power and precision for which her blog is known, she goes on to compare the climate of government surveillance with a burglary in her home that she experienced years ago.
Groklaw rose to prominance documenting the famous SCO lawsuit, a long, complex proceeding that threatened the very existence of Linux. In addition, patents, recognition of Microsoft's OOXML format as a standard, and general information about copyright and licenses were the topics of published articles and discussions. Among other accolades, Groklaw received the 2010 EFF Pioneer Award, an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica, and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The Library of Congress has added Groklaw in its collection of historically valuable Internet materials.
Jones states that she plans to use the Internet as little as possible in the future. As for others who wish to communicate through email, Jones recommends,
"If you have to stay on the Internet, my research indicates that the short term safety from surveillance, to the degree that it is even possible, is to use a service like Kolab for email, which is located in Switzerland, and hence is under different laws than the US, laws which attempt to afford more privacy to citizens."
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