The editor of a well-respected legal site, Groklaw, has announced that
she’s going to stop producing the site because the government might be reading her emails.
Groklaw is a collaborative site that explores the nuances of certain cases and legal decisions, including the recent Apple v. Samsung case.
The editor of the site, Pamela Jones, says she can’t operate the site without email.
And the idea that faceless government spooks might be reading any email that she sends outside the U.S. is too much for her:
[T]he 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 standpont of the screeners, I don’t know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don’t know how to do Groklaw like this.
Jones isn’t just worried about being wrongly accused of crimes. For her, there’s the ickiness factor of having her personal privacy violated–a feeling that she says is similar to the feeling she had when her apartment in New York was robbed and the burglar went through all of her underwear. (She threw the underwear away, unused, and moved to a different apartment).
Jones also doesn’t sound like a privacy zealot who rails about 4th Amendment violations without ever addressing the purpose of government surveillance programs–namely, to protect the country from very real threats. Jones knew someone who was supposed to have been in the Twin Towers on 9/11, and she doesn’t rationalize that attack as having been a one-off that could never happen again. Unlike Edward Snowden, she also doesn’t condescendingly suggest that those of us whose privacy was spectacularly violated on 9/11 and in Boston in April worry too much about terrorism.
In other words, Jones doesn’t sound like a crusader who has decided to put one personal mission above all others. She sounds like the sanctity of her personal space is more important to her than it might be to others (other people might just have washed their underwear, instead of throwing them away, for example, or, like Jones’s neighbours, been resigned to the fact that New York apartments get robbed from time to time.)
But, in any event, Jones is pulling the plug on Groklaw.
So the government’s surveillance programs have cost us another small but tangible loss.
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