April 23, 2024

Groklaw Shuts Down, Citing NSA Eavesdropping

The legendary technology law blog Groklaw is shutting down. Groklaw’s founder and operator, Pamela “PJ” Jones, wrote that in light of current eavesdropping, email is no longer secure. She went on to say:

There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.
What to do? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure it out. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad. But it’s good to be realistic. And the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how “clean” we all are ourselves from the standpoint of the screeners, I don’t know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don’t know how to do Groklaw like this.

I can’t help thinking that there might be more here than meets the eye.

If PJ had instead written that she was shutting down Groklaw for personal reasons, that the site had had its run but all good things must come to an end, the Internet community would have given her a hearty round of applause as she left the stage, in recognition of her amazing work over the years.

Instead we’re left to ponder how government surveillance could threaten Groklaw’s operation. The site’s bread and butter has been investigative journalism relating to technology litigation. Most famously, Groklaw tormented SCO during the company’s high-stakes but ultimately groundless copyright lawsuit against IBM. PJ had an amazing knack for getting the key document, or connecting the right dots, to pop SCO’s latest legal trial balloon. It’s not clear why the NSA would have wanted to stop this kind of journalism, or any of Groklaw’s other work.

The story would be different, though, if Groklaw were turning its attention to government matters. The NSA revelations are the kind of story where PJ’s style of journalism could be useful, where close reading of the available documents and dogged research in the public record could help to round out the public picture. If Groklaw were starting down this path, then PJ would be entirely rational to consider email eavesdropping as a threat to the site’s continued operation.

I have no idea if this is correct—it’s no more than an educated guess on my part—but I think it’s worth considering. On the other hand, perhaps PJ was looking for a tactful way to shut down the site and seized on the NSA eavesdropping as an excuse to shut down while making an attention-getting statement against email eavesdropping.

Whatever is behind the shutdown, PJ deserves that round of applause. I’m sad to see Groklaw end.


  1. That reaction doesn’t entirely make sense. I think I have never regarded the internet as a private place; I saw too many mistakes made way-back-when, and at work 3 of us share the same name, and the one with the canonical email address gets the other guys’ email. People print confidential documents and forget them on the printer, that sort of thing.

    If I were only concerned about eavesdropping, I’d use 4096-bit RSA — that’s supposed to be good for several more decades, right? — and of course I would encrypt everything, especially cat photos.

    What I can’t easily figure out how to subvert is traffic analysis and metadata collection. If Manning contacts Wikileaks through a short chain of connections, they can find that with traffic analysis. Any well-known target for publishing leaks could be monitored, and anyone contacting them would be noticed. Given enough traffic analysis, any deviation from normal patterns could be noticed, too, and could cause special notice. Metadata’s a big deal. Any public “billboard” or “restroom wall” could also be monitored (there’s not enough of them) so that if someone left an encrypted “Message for Glenn Greenwald!” there, the traffic to the billboard could be checked.

    What is fantastically annoying about all of this is that in an engineering sense it is completely immoral. An engineer would count excess/early dead bodies and work to minimize them — for all causes. Terrorism deserves hardened aircraft doors and a little care with how we sell/package certain chemicals, but it is nowhere near the largest cause of death, and cannot possibily justify this invasion of privacy or subversion of our constitution. More people in this country die falling out of bed (so clearly, the NSA should monitor us all with bed-cams, right?). Improvements in medical care — better allocation, mistakes avoided, good prenatal care — would prevent tens of thousands of early deaths each year. Better attention to transit systems, so that they do not actively discourage us from walking and biking — would also save tens of thousands of early deaths each year (essentially, excessively automated transportation is a public health issue).

  2. In every case people come up with perfectly reasonable explanations other than what the victims clearly state.

    • The victim clearly stated her motives it is true; but clarity comes only with knowledge. And what most have studied on this forum (such as Ed) does not relate to the knowledge of what the victim was even talking about.

      I find it a little ironic that Ed gets distracted over if this NSA spying was just an excuse to shut down, or was the real reason, or if it was some “personal issues;” and then to have the board pasted with conspiracy of Cointelpro; which whether or not is true has no baring on this case.

      One thing, Ed’s post got me thinking as his posts almost always do; but that meant I had to read further. So, I clicked the link and read Pamela Jones’ full post on “Forced Exposure.” The title very fitting. Different study than law, that post necessitates is a study in psychology.

      So, Ed, as per your wondering. It was all of the above. It was a personal issue which the sum of personal experience and study combined to create an insecurity of mind; added to a new knowledge of very real privacy violations that were hitherto only hinted at, but now have been fully proved to be true; while determining how one should act and react to the knowledge.

      In other words, from her own post I don’t see that the NSA was specifically targeting Groklaw because of what Groklaw was involved in. But the operator now understands the reality that the NSA is specifically targeting EVERYONE; and that creates a “forced exposure.” It is what it is; and it is what I have been saying for years. But I get labeled a paranoid maniac, tin-foil hat wearer, conspiracy nut, etc.

      Pamela Jones has learned the truth that the U.S. Government is very much equivalent to the Auschwitz in how they are conducting their affairs; specifically in removing all privacy for the purpose of control of the population. And having already had her own privacy violated in a personal way as to understand what others who went through the Auschwitz were writing about; realizes she can no longer safely and sanely continue her course via e-mail and Internet communications when she now knows the reality that there is no privacy and it is very calculated to induce the very mental states she is experiencing. That is quite literally what she said.

      I take a different approach to my knowledge of how the U.S. is conducting its affairs. Oh, I fully expect to serve my time in prison some day, or to be murdered by the U.S. government or any of her subsidiaries (States and local entities). So rather than attempt to not feel violated by avoiding “forced exposure” instead I speak out against it in such a way as to ensure when my time is up; that my cause is just; and that there will be enough record in the public eye to recognize the Auschwitz that has come to the United States of America. It is coming, and the only way to stop it would be for people to take their blinders off; but even with all of the media, I see and foresee that Americans blind themselves by choice.

      [Or if you don’t understand psychology, I would be more blunt. She wants to survive; and is trying to do so by avoiding exposure. I rather not “survive” the dehumanization that occurred in the concentration camps; I rather be dead. My course of action is to ensure that when it comes, I will be one of the dead ones.]

  3. Yes. Burglary is also a Cointelpro tactic. Don’t take my word for it, read about cointelpro. It’s available on wikipedia.

    Michael Hastings and Andrew Breitbart also had recent mysterious accidental deaths. Too many and too quickly to be coincidental. It is no accident that those in the know run to Russia for safety (not that it’s particularly better there but they know they’re not safe here).

  4. Personally, I found PJ’s explanation fairly self-explanatory and quite reasonable given her circumstances. Many people have been through experiences of being violated which scar them for life. In her case, it was a burglary.

  5. Many bloggers are being intimidated by govt agents, receiving death threats and shutting down.

    Anytime an internal security force gets this big it turns inward on its own citizens. There are simply not enough external “threats” to keep that many people busy. So they invent them to justify their own existence. I hate to sound draatic but we are entering a Soviet style period in American history.

    They are going after unpopular political targets first. Look at these death threat cointelpro agent sites intimidating white nationalist bloggers:

    iii Percent Patriots
    San Jacinto County Outlaw

    The following two sites have shut down just this week due to death threats:


    People will be okay with this because they use racial slurs, but it won’t stop there.

    There is a silent bloodbath going on.

    JT Ready
    David Lynch
    Daniel Houtek
    Another nazi who was supposedly killed by his kid.
    William Gaede

    All of these people, not known for criminal behavior are mysteriously dying off under the most bizarre circumstances.

    If you know anything about cointelpro you will know that these are far too many strange coincidencesbwithin a very short period of time.

    These people may not have been personable but they were not hurting anyone.

    There is a reign of terror occurring.

    First they called White Seperatists “haters”. The media had primed the public with years of slander to make them readily accept this idea. Then they started calling militia groups “haters”. Then the tea party and the boy scouts.

    So will the killing start with unpopular White Nationalists but then progress.

    They learned a lesson from Waco and Ruby Ridge. They no longer are doing big media spectacles but killing kgb style, quietly