Surveillance concerns bring an end to crusading site Groklaw

A legally informed Web site critical of lawsuits from the SCO Group, Apple, Oracle, and patent trolls shuts down because its founder says e-mail can't be protected from government scrutiny.

Groklaw logo

Citing concerns about privacy and government surveillance, Pamela Jones is shutting down her site Groklaw, which for years took on what she and vocal fans saw as wrongheaded legal action in the tech domain.

"There is now no shield from forced exposure," Jones said in final blog post Tuesday. Groklaw depended on collaboration over e-mail, "and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate."

Jones, a paralegal, started her site a decade ago taking on the SCO Group's legal attack on IBM and others involving Linux and Unix intellectual property. She rebutted the company's position, detailed the arcana of the lawsuit proceedings, and shared legal filings on which the case rested. Volunteers attended some hearings in person, and collaborative efforts found just any hole that could be poked in SCO's case. The site archives show hundreds of posts since its start in May 2003.

As SCO's case fizzled, Groklaw directed its righteous indignation toward other legal cases, including the storm of patent infringement cases in the tech world, digital rights management, open-source licensing, and Psystar's Mac clones.

In an e-mail, Jones said Groklaw won't disappear, though activity on the site will.

"The site will stay, but forums will not. I guess they'll be up for about two weeks," she said.

And she doesn't expect to return to Groklaw, as she did once before after a short-lived retirement in 2011.

"I don't think there is any way to come back," Jones said. "As for a replacement, I don't know of any. Without wanting to blow my own horn, Groklaw was unique. I just happened to have the very skills needed to explain the law to geeks, and they showed up in large numbers to explain the tech to me. It was a unique combination and a deliberate attempt to do something new in journalism, and I'll miss doing it more than I can express."

Jones herself is withdrawing from the electronic world, too.

"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, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write," she said in the blog post. "Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world's economy would collapse, I suppose. I can't really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over."

Update, 10:04 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Jones.

 

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