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Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet 986

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the freedom-of-the-press dept.
An anonymous reader was the first to write with news that Groklaw is shutting down: "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 U.S. out or to the U.S. in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel. So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate." Why it's a big deal.
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Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:06AM (#44616483)

    America used to be a free country and now where are we?

  • It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:08AM (#44616491)
    It was a myth, a good PR. The truth is probably the USA were never more, or less, democratic and free than most of western europe state. Just your run of the mill western democratic country. Not bad, but not the best either : just one among many good country to live in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:10AM (#44616495)

    Welcome to 2013, the terrerists are still winning without having to lift a finger.

  • Rule of law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:11AM (#44616503)

    You'll find all the laws in the US related to privacy and surveillance there. Not that anyone seems to follow any laws that get in their way these days. Or if they find they need a law to make conduct lawful, they just write a new law or reinterpret an old one and keep on going. That's not the rule of law as I understood the term.

  • by some old guy (674482) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:14AM (#44616515)

    Apparently our freely-elected Constitutional government has succeeded in creating a critical mass of fear in the US. Real investigative journalism, what little there actually was, is now dead. We are therefore left with only state-approved information exchange.

    Time for me to get my passport renewed and learn a new language. Fuck this country. I can get a job anywhere.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:14AM (#44616519)

    you mean the ones who use 'Anonymous Coward' as their sig? (like you perhaps?)

    I've disagreed with PJ over many things but I've always respected her argument and I've never been censored when I've put forward differing views to hers.

    Her research into a topic is excellent and puts many lawyers to shame.

    I for one will miss her and Groklaw.

  • Re: Good riddance (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:14AM (#44616521)

    I have never heard of Groklaw before now. But this particular statement is one of the most personal and intelligent post ive read on the current topic of #nsa #surveillance

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:15AM (#44616525) Homepage Journal

    It sounds very melodramatic, but we really are heading towards the day when many of us are going to need to flee our own country. Those of us that have been free and open with out opinions, anyway.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:17AM (#44616533)

    America used to be a free country and now where are we?

    At a defining crossroads. My fellow Americans, now is the worst possible moment to wimp out.

  • And (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Zanadou (1043400) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:18AM (#44616537)

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

  • Thank You, pj (Score:5, Insightful)

    by some old guy (674482) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:18AM (#44616541)

    Groklaw will be missed. You are, and will remain, a rock star. :)

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:19AM (#44616547)

    It was a myth, a good PR. The truth is probably the USA were never more, or less, democratic and free than most of western europe state. Just your run of the mill western democratic country. Not bad, but not the best either : just one among many good country to live in.

    Not really good PR, just standard. Every other country has it too. If you live in France then you're told France is the best, if you live in the UK then you're told UK is the best... it sometimes seems that Americans buy into their own publicity a little too easily but I'm sure there are worse national traits than self-deception.

  • by boorack (1345877) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:20AM (#44616559)
    All components required to impose totalitarian regime were in place for some time. Now, our lovely, corporate-sponsored fascist and criminal government decided to turn the key.
  • Give Up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:22AM (#44616573)

    This is just the biggest bunch of BS. Email has never been secure or private, so why is everyone pretending that it is? The only thing Groklaw has to fear is not having a lame excuse for giving up, but now that they have one...

  • Re:Give Up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:24AM (#44616583)

    Streets aren't secure or private, but if you saw the Gestapo positioned on every street corner you might suddenly feel differently about them.

  • MIGRATE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:27AM (#44616615)

    Just get out of the USA. There's no such thing as freedom there anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:27AM (#44616617)

    It won't. Not until there is a war. And nobody wants a war.
    So I guess the only thing to say is this: welcome to the new world.

    I think the funnier thing is the gun nuts who were always going crazy about how they will defend themselves from a tyrannic Britain now face a much worse enemy and sit around doing fuck all because they know they lost already.
    Yeah, you try shoot a tank with your peashooter. Good luck with that, son. Enjoy being shot with a drone in advance.

    Cowards, spies, psychos and delusions, that is all America is now. No freedom here, Stranger.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:27AM (#44616619) Homepage Journal

    anyone that thinks that Obama is "left wing" is an idiot.

    Middle-left is a stretcher.

  • by Vermonter (2683811) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:29AM (#44616629)
    And I said nothing, because I am not a Lavabit user. Then they came for Groklaw, and I said nothing, because I don't visit Groklaw. Then they came for Slashdot, and I had one less platform to voice my outrage...
  • by killfixx (148785) * on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:30AM (#44616639) Journal

    Groklaw has been an excellent source for legal information. PJ has always done an excellent job.

    This is another marker on that downhill race to revolution. I just hope it's not as bloody as the last one.

  • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:32AM (#44616649) Journal
    "So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause."
    Senator Padme Amidala
  • by some old guy (674482) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:33AM (#44616661)

    There is a profound difference between superficially biased journalism and state-monitored corporate journalism. The former is mere human failing, the latter is despotism.

    Nobody expects real journalism from the mainstream. It is the muzzling of independent journalism that ushers in our brave new world.

  • too much drama... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:34AM (#44616671)

    Groklaw was in the phase of closing a couple of years now - this "heroic exodus" claiming that trendy "i am a freedom fighter" is just too much drama for something no so dramatic...

  • by pipedwho (1174327) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:35AM (#44616677)

    What this translates to isn't that Groklaw doesn't like what's happening to others and is shutting down out of protest.

    It is that it has been served with a demand for information/wire-tapping along with an attached gag order, courtesy of the 'Star Chamber'. The only 'legally' safe way for organisations to tell people that something like this has happened is to shut down their operations.

    So, translation of Groklaw's announcement: the NSA/FBI/TLA have copied our hard drives and installed a data logger in our data centre. Oh yeah, and we're not allowed to talk about it.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:36AM (#44616689)

    What is being done has nothing to do with left-wing or right-wing. It's about power and control.

  • by dmbasso (1052166) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:38AM (#44616705)

    Actually shutting down is fighting. It delivers a stronger message than just words.

  • by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:38AM (#44616717) Homepage Journal

    The hard part of finding people to prosecute is *finding* candidates. Once you know who one person is, you can do traffic analysis and find all their friends. See, for example http://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metadata-to-find-paul-revere/ [kieranhealy.org]

    If someone is reading all our (insecure) emails to and from a known "person of interest", such as, for example, a well-known web site, then they can build the kind of interconnection matrix that will lead them to the supporters and fellow-travellers of that website.

    Were I a copyright maximalist, I would regard groklaw as a criminal conspiracy, and the centre of a matrix of criminals and fellow-travellers. Based on that, I'd then petition the communications security establishment for a (secret) order allowing me to identify the conspirators and their fellow-travellers for (equally secret) investigation, leading to either prosecution or private revenge...

    --dave

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:39AM (#44616721)

    America used to be a free country and now where are we?

    Well no one else is game to say it so I fucking well will. PJ's rant about having her apartment broken into and having some stranger touch her nickers is just a shit of a cop-out. She may have moved out of that apartment and tossed out thoses undies but she didn't stop trying to find somewhere to live and go pantiless because some dirtbag broke in. Yet she feels perfectly justified in shutting down Groklaw. Colour it any way you like - she just gave up and sent the message that it's okay to do that. FUCK THAT. They win because you let them win. Email doesn't work, try something else, perhaps TOR. TOR shut down move to something beyond that, and so on and so on. There's no excuse for giving up. It's not romantic. It's not a poetic and tragic end. It's just pathetic.

  • Re: It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:39AM (#44616723) Journal

    At one point in time the US was more free then other countries. This is because the size and scopr of the federal government has traditionally been constrained and limited for the most part. The cold war changed a lot of that ss well did the hippy movement of the 60's and the economic colapse in the 70's. Government expanded rapidly trying to "PROTECT" us from then communidt russians and the people started demanding more of the federal government which they were more then happy to address as long as it could increase the powet it held over the people.

    This isn't party specific either. Even when a party runs against it as part of their platform, once they get power then make it worse but different.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:40AM (#44616739)

    Try this: https://slashdot.org [slashdot.org]. See what happened?

    They've always had Slashdot.

  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:40AM (#44616743) Homepage

    Time for me to get my passport renewed and learn a new language. Fuck this country. I can get a job anywhere.

    And precisely where are you going to go? Name me another country that has less restrictions on free speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, right to property, and so forth. Everywhere you look there are governments that have it written right in their version of the Constitution that they can detain you, take your stuff, monitor everything you do or say...the list goes on and on.

    You can say "I'm gonna move somewhere where they can't spy on me and arrest me for saying unpopular thing about the government" but I challenge you to find anyplace on the planet where that's guaranteed anymore. The US was the last bastion of this. If it's fallen, you're SOL.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:41AM (#44616753)
    I feel PJ is making an important statement, more convincing than anything I've seen yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:41AM (#44616759)

    Especially if that message is "You Win."

  • Re:Dupe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:42AM (#44616763)

    Nope, but 2+ years ago, she did say she would stop updating Groklaw with articles. Did she stick to that?

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110409161444432 [groklaw.net]

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:43AM (#44616775)

    Pj, you gutless coward! Come back!

    Given that PJ has been running Groklaw with almost no intermissions for just over 10 years, it's probably not fair to describe her as a gutless coward. If you can come up with a form of email encryption that you can guarantee won't be cracked within the next 5 years, then good luck with changing her mind about this decision.

    If she were me, I would just be plain tired. There's only so much a committee of one can do.

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:43AM (#44616777) Homepage Journal

    Pj, you gutless coward! Come back!

    Two points:

    1) It's HER site. If she does not want to continue, for whatever reason, it's HER choice. Disagree with her? Create your own Groklaw.
    2) Especially given the Lavabit precedent, I can understand her decision.

    Remember: you may be secretly ordered to spy on your own users, and secretly prevented to even mention this to anyone - including your own lawyers - and threatened with criminal prosecution if you decide to do right thing and shut everything down. Big Brother wants to be able to watch you. All the time.

    As for being a ''gutless coward'' (your words, not mine), try running a high-traffic, high-visibility web site for a while, with all the attendant legal problems and shenanigans (see above), and we will talk about it for while, mmmmmkay?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:44AM (#44616787)

    Completely and utterly fucked. And they're dragging the rest of the world down to the worst level of pervasive state-security.

    America has become everything they were against 30 years ago -- scared sheep with the government looking over your shoulder at everything you do.

    You have no moral legitimacy, and you are no longer worthy of respect.

    If stuff like this is happening, the US is going to devolve into a sad parody of herself. Because people are stopping believing even the illusion freedom. And in the process, you are making this happen in every other country.

    Fuck you guys.

  • Re: Good riddance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:44AM (#44616791) Homepage Journal

    And #slashdot is not #twitter, you moron.

    Seriously, enough with the hashtags already. Learn how to type proper messages!

    And. Get. Off. My. Lawn!! ;-)

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:45AM (#44616795)

    The only people I ever see acting like their country is "the best" overall are Americans.

    Maybe the Swiss, though admittedly this is from a short visit and knowing one family

  • wtf groklaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:48AM (#44616833)

    Groklaw is one of the watchers watching the watchers!

    Their articles expose the corporate corruption and report on the legal shenanigans by the likes of the RIAA, Apple, Microsoft, SCO, Sony, and even the federal government itself.

    We need Groklaw now more than ever.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:49AM (#44616839) Homepage

    It is that it has been served with a demand for information/wire-tapping along with an attached gag order, courtesy of the 'Star Chamber'.

    Do the gag also orders also order you to write 2000+ words of false information on why you're shutting down? Because if you're trying to hint that you're not allowed to talk about the reasons, inventing valid but false reasons would seem to be the wrong way to go about it.

  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:49AM (#44616841)

    Welcome to 2013, the terrerists are still winning without having to lift a finger.

    The terrorists won long ago and occupied the USA using outsourced forces, since their own numbers are so small. The terrorists surrogate army has outposts at every airport in the land reminding people constantly that their ability to travel freely is limited.

    First you put a cloud on people's ability to travel.

    Then you put a cloud on people's ability to speak.

    Then...

  • by Captain Hook (923766) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:50AM (#44616851)

    Maybe yes maybe no. However, if these 'peashooters' are so harmless, why does the state want to restrict them so much?

    Because although they are pointless against a modern military (which is suppose to be the point of the right to bear arms), they are extremely dangerous when used against people not part of the modern military... people like your local community members, who seem to keep getting shot whether as a result of armed burgery, shooting rampages or stand your ground self-defense.

  • by jkflying (2190798) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:57AM (#44616905)

    First they came for the whistleblowers,
    But I was not a whistleblower.
    Then they came for the journalists,
    But I was not a journalist.
    Then they came for the lawyers,
    But I was not a lawyer.
    Then they came for me,
    And there was nobody left to defend me in court, write about my case or provide facts as to what had been done against all of us.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:57AM (#44616911)

    You don't have to be a dick about the "her site, her rules" stuff. We, as her readers, are entitled to express our opinions about the closure just as she is entitled to do as she sees fit.

    Furthermore, she may well intend to serve our interests anyway, so our input as her readerbase would be welcome, presumably.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:59AM (#44616943)

    I believe it was Bob Dylan who came up with the words you need to hear right now: "Just because you like my stuff, doesn't mean I owe you anything."

    You're free to disapprove of PJ's choice, of course, but can you do it without sounding quite so petulant and self-entitled?

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcdr (178250) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:00AM (#44616951)

    I disagree.

    First there is really big difference between countries about the privacy question. For example in Switzerland (where I live) the privacy question is far more mature than in the USA. It's not a government vs peoples fight, but a normal subject where change have to be voted by all citizens. In the USA the government is so powerful that it can do almost anything, especially using his agencies, without strong opposition.

    Secondly, the USA is by far the country that have the most used his massive commercial and political influence to impose to others countries to destroy the privacy rights of there citizens. Many non-USA peoples are upset about that, really. This is not an hazard if now the USA is considered an evil county about privacy and that some others non-USA country is now regarded as more free than the "used to be free" USA.

    For many peoples, USA was the way to go until the end of the 20 century. Recent release of documents have show that the USA success was based on one of the most massive manipulation of information and manipulation of others governments. It's normal that there is a reaction about that, internally and externally. I really don't known how the USA will evolve from that point. Regarding everyone as a suspect is certainly not a way to build a bright future.

  • by F.Ultra (1673484) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:00AM (#44616961)
    And that would change what? Considering the number of ISP:s that is under the NSAs thumb, you can pretty much assume that all three nodes that you use in Tor is monitored by the NSA and such they can simply do traffic analysis based on time and size of data packets. I wouldn't be too surprised if they have the capcity to inject extra data at the source ISP (say that they monitor www.groklaw.org and thus injects a large amount of extra data in the reply from the server by injecting them at the ISP-level so even Groklaw won't see it) then they can track where that extra large packet went eventually in case they didn't have access to all three nodes but only the source and destination.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tolkienfan (892463) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:01AM (#44616973) Journal

    The US has seen many protests. Many people have moved there, even from the UK and other European countries, for freedom. Look at Salmon Rushdie.
    No, this is relatively new and your attitude doesn't help.
    We need large number of people showing their indignation, not sitting at home saying "it was probably always like this"

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:02AM (#44616987)
    The reason that it gets this way is essentially a market failure.

    The thing is while most people apply the idea of a market failure to asymmetric incentives in economics where an outcome could be a net negative for everyone as a whole but a net positive for all the principle players such as both the business and its customers, it also applies to all forms of governance.

    In democratic or representative republic forms of governance, the personal investment required to be an informed voter is a cost that is much greater than the benefit of actually making an informed vote. Part of this is due to a lot of noise within the available information, but it also has to do with the number of people that themselves are uniformed .

    The upshot of this is that other uninformed voters creates an incentive to be an uninformed voter yourself, a self-sustaining entirely rational population of uninformed voters.
  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:06AM (#44617033) Journal

    Blood? That's so 20th century.

    The revolution is here, though. And the streets will run red with tape.

    The bankers and the politicians think they are safe because they've built prisons. They've built a militarized police. They've built an omnipresent spy machine.

    It is a mighty machine indeed. Powerful! Terrible! You'd be mad to fight that machine! Who could?

    But there is one, tiny, adorable little flaw in their design. Uh, what tells the soldiers in which directions to point their guns? What determines who occupies the prison cells? What determines whether the spy machine is listening to your pizza delivery calls rather than ferreting out bank fraud?

    Why, it's just a piece of paper. It's just a law that says "defend bankers, gas protesters." All you have to do is change that law to say "prosecute bankers, defend protesters" and that machine turns right back around on its makers. Kind of a clever hack, eh?

    Let's see, let's see how to change those laws...

    Oh, look, the laws of my city, county, state and nation are right here on the Internet. And look, I have a text editor, too! I bet I can write better laws than a bunch of dickbags who failed kindergarten and slept through civics class. If I need some help, advice on wording, I wonder if there's anybody on the Internet who might help? And I bet if I tidied up the body of laws for my own town, removed the tax breaks for the golf course where the city council gets free memberships and used that money to fix potholes in the streets, people might actually vote for that! Only need a plurality. And I bet I can crowdfund some ads. Or FaceBook it. My grandma might Like it.

    I'm working on this right now, and I can use some help.

    It's basically Sourceforge for law. Get your laws. Fork them. Hack them. Vote on a release candidate before a general election and choose a random Installer to put on a ballot. Crowdfund money.

    Turn it into a game. The US electoral district map is a game of Risk. Each unit has tax money and a militarized police force if you win it. Campaigns are just an MMO, with quests like "write 10 letters to the editor," "collect 100 FB likes for these laws," and raid bosses like "drive people to the polls." I'd love to get "haunches" in there somewhere. Oh well. Maybe collect 10 pictures of opposition candidates drunk or with their hair out of place. Dick pix = legendaries.

    If anybody wants to help, I need:

    Law hackers.

    Foundation/community organizers.

    Sourceforge for law (I'm hacking Allura now, but I've never used Python before)

    Kickstarter for cash.

    Memes to explain this to people.

    Trolls to troll politicians.

    Stackoverflow (law version) to help people write better laws

    Secure online voting system.

    It's all right there. Every tool we need is available for free online. We can repair the entire US government from our parents' basements in our pajamas, one district at a time.

    We need not hide, we need not encrypt. We will occupy no streets, break no laws, have no secrets and be the very, very most obedient of citizens. Call it an "Open Government" maybe. Or New/America.

    We just need some hackers.

    Do you know any?

  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:10AM (#44617075) Homepage Journal

    What I can take away from this statement by PJ is that the powers that be already have their hands on the servers either by hook or by crook and although groklaw may be able to set up tor or any number of any other number of secure workarounds, the entire site is compromised at source, therefore making any further measures moot.

    If I were PJ and the feds or whomever came down on me with a gagging order, a reaction and a message like this would be the only possibly-legal way of informing the users, although I wouldn't be surprised if repercussions weren't coming. Shifting the site outside of US jurisdiction, warning members or modifying access protocols to get around wiretapping would be directly against the terms of the gag order.

    Now I'll go swap my tinfoil hat for a lead one.

    Related aside: back when speed limits were introduced in the UK, the AA (Automobile Association) got in trouble for obstructing the police by using their scouts to warn drivers of speed checks in the area. So they introduced the slogan "If an AA patrol fails to salute you, please stop and ask why".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:10AM (#44617081)

    But I'm guessing it is not the technical privacy hurdles which have her against the ropes - it is the legal ones. If I make the most technically secure site in the world, but I am forced to secretly open the back door to some government official, secretly demanded under jackboot threat and penalty of imprisonment and the ruin of my life - what else do I do? If you are willing to let her destroy her life - why don't you offer to take over the administrative side of GROKLAW, rightfully refuse to comply and publish all the details, and we will all vocally support you as you are carted off to your new dungeon cell. It is her life, not just some abstract principled stand.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:12AM (#44617103) Homepage

    America used to be a free country and now where are we?

    In a place where every email/SMS/tweet needs to look like a terrorist email/SMS/tweet, where every communication needs to have something forbidden attached to it, where every web page needs to go through a couple of proxies, where they cannot sift any useful information from the mass of data.

    They ARE going to do this, it won't go away because a few people grumble. Time to decrease the signal/noise ratio to the point where it's unusable.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:12AM (#44617129)

    Indeed, and I can understand her feelings. I just wish she had chosen to fight instead. She sits at the focus of a pretty fair-sized, cooperative community rich in legal and technological expertise and the will to use it - I can't think of many others in such a strong position to make a stand. She long avoided politics on Groklaw, but this is going way beyond politics, this is an attack on the rule of law itself, and we're in dire need of champions while there's still some small hope of making a difference.

    Perhaps she did some soul searching and found she was not champion enough for this challenge - I seem to remember she was shaken by some of the particularly ugly attacks and intimidation directed at her over the SCO saga, not that I blame her, and the opposition this time around is far more fearsome and insidious.

    Farewell PJ, we'll miss you. And I at least will be hoping you change your mind.

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:14AM (#44617151)

    It may not be a case of wimping out. Lavabit was slapped with a gagging clause by the US spy agencies and told that it would have to allow the NSA to spy on its customers on its behalf without telling them. Lavabit decided to shut down rather than act as a mole for the NSA, and was then charged by the Feds for not spying on their behalf. It looks very much like the same thing may be happening with Groklaw. Groklaw is quite outspoken on behalf of freedom of speech, openness, and transparency and therefore critical of the NSA's activities. The US spy agencies are currently in the process of intimidating and shutting down any free speech that exposes NSA lawbreaking or is embarrassing to the US spy agencies. Groklaw would therefore be a prime target. I can't help wondering whether Groklaw has received similar legal threats under cover of a gagging order. Certainly there were many posts criticizing the NSA on Groklaw, and I wonder whether the NSA asked Groklaw to provide access to the NSA to spy on its emails and posters in order to intimidate and silence them. That must surely be the only explanation for the sudden shut down and the freezing of discussion posts.

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:16AM (#44617179) Homepage Journal

    Educate yourself: Lavabit founder has specifically stated that he did not wat to compromise the privacy of his users.

    Source: https://lavabit.com/ [lavabit.com]

    My Fellow Users,

    I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

    What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

    This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

    Sincerely,
    Ladar Levison
    Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

    He has also stated that he could be arrested for shutting down his site:

    Source: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/13/20008036-lavabitcom-owner-i-could-be-arrested-for-resisting-surveillance-order?lite [nbcnews.com]

    I may be ''rather fucking stupid'' as you say, but, at this stage, I trust Lavabit more than I trust the NSA.

    And please learn the difference between "convent" and "convenient". I am not a religious person and I have no intention of ever becoming a monk.

  • by fatphil (181876) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:27AM (#44617315) Homepage
    It will be an important statement if it is joined by many others doing likewise.
    In order for things to get better, sometimes they have to get a lot lot worse.
  • Holy hell... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:31AM (#44617393)

    This is just an excuse by Groklaw, they have been wanting to get out of what they did for a while and now they have the perfect lame excuse to do it.

  • Re: It was a myth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:37AM (#44617481)

    There will be two kinds of people in a true libertarian society: the super-rich and the minions. That's why so many rich people want to shrink the govt. - so the people have no recourse against their power.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:38AM (#44617497)
    This all seems like such a bad dream. Unfortunately, that makes the American predicament no less real. We may soon find ourselves facing three choices:

    1. Passively watch our experiment in democracy lay down and die, while accepting that 2 + 2 = 5. Hopefully your children won't be too dissatisfied with your parenting. They might turn you in under the guise of suspicion of thinking freely.

    2. Flee the country. Get you're passport and leave now while you still can. We may find some of the more desirable countries banning the immigration of fleeing US citizens, or at the very least face widespread discrimination abroad.

    3. Fight back - I'm talking violence here.

    I know how melodramatic that all sounds, and a few years ago I would have never imagined myself realistically making such a statement - not in a million years.

    I can't believe I have a front row seat to everything that's going down. Maybe someday I'll find myself telling someone where I was when the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights were permanently suspended. Maybe someday I'll tell someone how the entirety of US history really went down from founding ideals to however this ends - I'm sure it will be nothing even remotely close to their heavily censored, revisionist textbook.

    Last but not least: this really sucks.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzytv (2108482) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:40AM (#44617521)

    If there's one thing that really annoys me on people from US, it's talking about Europeans. There's no such thing (no matter how much the European Union denies that). Europe is a geographical group of ~50 countries that are very (very very) different in all aspects. Did you know that Azerbaijan, Belarus or Georgia are European countries? (I have nothing against those countries, I'm just trying to explain that assuming all countries are like France, UK or Germany is pretty much nonsense). It's like talking about Americans when actually talking about people from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Canada because thay all live on continents with "America" in the name.

    Even this "We are the best!" bullshit is present only in some of the countries. That does not mean the people in the other countries are not proud of their country, they just don't treat the others as crap. I'd bet it works the same way in the US, btw - most people genuiely proud of their country/state and a few nationalist loonies (which get the most in foreign news, so the impression is quite distorted).

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:41AM (#44617525)

    You do realise that he didn't talk about today but of when the USA was founded?

    You mean when only (slave owning) men (mostly of European descent) were allowed to vote?

    That's not even a valid argument, and means nothing. All people originally started from tribes, yet a "tribal" is nothing but a politically correct word meaning "racist." The American colonists were no different, and started from a position of both oppressor and oppressed. Yes, they were dominated by racist male slave owners, and they took land by force from the natives, but they were still only a colony, governed from afar without input. They then revolted and create a democracy from the people they were. Even if it started as only a democracy of 30% of the population, any democracy was still a huge improvement because it allowed them to change.

    What made them create the democracy the way they did was coming to an agreement that excluded tribal governance. The right to free speech. The right to freedom of religion. The right to assemble. The formation of a representational government. These are rights that protect individuals from the tribal behaviors of others.

    Only a democracy was able to evolve to include the rest of the people, sometimes civilly, sometimes brutally, and never without controversy.

    It would not have been possible to do this in the reverse order. They were governed by someone else, and would have been unable to make the social changes required to eliminate slavery first, or to grant blacks, natives, or women the vote. They themselves did not have their own government and did not have a vote in how to run their affairs.

    So stop saying or thinking that our democracy was founded on racism. Our country was founded through the drive for self-determination, revolution, and democracy, with measures to protect against racism (the seeds were there, although they weren't implemented in that way at that time.) And it was only through democracy that it could be improved, and the racism reduced. But making such changes is an extremely tumultuous, hard, and slow process that takes overcoming centuries of cultural bias. Even today, a lot of people still want to live in a tribal society, and exclude anyone not of their tribe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:44AM (#44617577)
    You are jumping away from the issue: The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt, in a way that affects everyone on the planet.
  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:46AM (#44617595)

    No, he really isn't. Thirty years ago he would have been seen as, at the "leftist", a moderate Conservative.

    The sad truth is "left versus right" stopped being a real thing in politics decades ago, today it's little more than the window-dressing espoused by politicians to keep us distracted while both sides push as hard as they think they can get away with towards a despotic government - the worst-case combination of the liberal and conservative viewpoints. The "liberals" claim to push towards big gov with big benefits, and "settle" for big gov. The "conservatives" claim to push towards small gov with small benefits, and "settle" for small benefits. Between them they have managed to create a monster while both sides can (with ever-decreasing plausibility) claim that that wasn't the intent.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:51AM (#44617645)
    Unfortunately, that statement is, "We lost. Those seeking a powerful, corrupt government have won. We surrender."
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:59AM (#44617753)

    The terrorists' surrogate army has outposts at every airport in the land reminding people constantly that their ability to travel freely is limited.

    Best fucking backronym for the TSA ever.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:01AM (#44617777) Homepage Journal
    America is not a democracy [salon.com], if looks, smells and tastes like a plutocracy, then no matter the handwritten label you stamp over it, is not. That you (and hopely, most) are becoming aware of it is an improvement, in any case.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:04AM (#44617811)
    Actually that is only true because your definition of "left vs right" has been co-opted by those on the extreme left wing. However, you slice it, both U.S. parties are on the same end of the political spectrum as the "left wing". That is, both parties think that the government is the solution to whatever the problem is. This shrinking of the political spectrum happened in the run up to WWII when fascist got labeled as the extreme far end of the spectrum from communist. When in fact, the only difference between their politics is in the details, not in the methods used to accomplish those goals.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:10AM (#44617891)

    Most western democracies don't have their children pledging allegiance to the flag on a daily basis. American exceptionalism is pretty exceptional as well, most western democracies don't claim such a thing for their countries.

  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins117 (1267462) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:13AM (#44617925)

    Allow me to present two quotes I think are relevant. The first is from the the Groklaw article referenced to in TFS.

    Not that anyone seems to follow any laws that get in their way these days. Or if they find they need a law to make conduct lawful, they just write a new law or reinterpret an old one and keep on going. That's not the rule of law as I understood the term.

    The second is from a recent op ed piece from Charles Krauhammer. I usually disagree with him on just about everything, but I read his stuff anyway just to get a glimpse of the what the "other side" is thinking. Nevertheless, I think he is spot on with the following:

    Such gross executive usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers. And most consequentially, it introduces a fatal instability into law itself. If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what's left of the law?

  • by new_breed (569862) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:22AM (#44618027)
    So I thought: well time to delete my slashdot account, I don't need anyone tracing certain posts back to my email account, but guess what? Slashdot doesn't allow deletion of account! That's more of a reason than ever to want to delete it IMHO.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:28AM (#44618143) Homepage Journal

    "They" being Hollywood?

    What makes you think that modern day Scotland is particularly similar to Scotland in the 14th century, anyway?

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by judoguy (534886) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:42AM (#44618327) Homepage

    Your "European" comparison is valid for the US as well. We have ~50 states that vary quite a bit. Many differences within each state. I, for example, think the US has a lot of problems, many things I hate to see here. But what I see here that I hate is often even more developed in other countries. Countries I where I have friends and enjoy visiting. Dislike American surveillance? Try London (I know, I know, a city, not a nation). Think America is a police state? Try Singapore.

    I value liberty more than security. Most of you don't. A totalitarian state is desired by a shocking (to me, at least) number of people in the world.

    What I hate about America isn't some dumbass waving a giant foam hand with a finger pointing up and yelling "We're number one!, USA, USA, USA! We're better than the Euro weenies!" That's merely rustic. What I hate is watching my admittedly imperfect country, perhaps the only modern country in the world founded on liberty, becoming *like* the rest of the world, even countries I love to visit.

  • Re:Give Up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by urulokion (597607) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:45AM (#44618375)

    You are missing the point. The point isn't that e-mail isn't a secure form of communication. The point is the NSA is capturing ALL of it and storing it in massive data stores. The NSA can search through ALL of the captured data at will. That US Federal government have the e-mails. There is really nothing in place that prevents the government from search through the stored data time and time again for years, except for some "rules".

    The fact the government CAN search through your e-mails at will is what PJ is concerned about. She a very bright person. She's gone over the issue in her mind. She realizes all of the ramifications of the government capabilities of the NSA. And it scares the hell out of her. It's created a chilling effect on First Amendment rights. Lavabit, Circle Mail, Groklaw are just the first visiable causalities of this chilling effect on free speech. And it's going to get worse and worse as more people realize the full impact of what the Snowden leaks are telling us.

  • by bwcbwc (601780) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:56AM (#44618527)

    I think a lot of this is more a personal statement about the rule of law and constitutional protections in the US in general, rather than any specific risk to Groklaw itself. PJ has always been careful to emphasize that the rule of law is a process designed to ensure justice is achieved as much as humanly possible. It must be incredibly disillusioning to her to see this process break down so dramatically as it has in the case of the NSA and FISA. If the rule of law means nothing anymore, Groklaw serves no purpose, regardless of whether there is any direct impact to the site from the NSA monitoring.

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:12AM (#44618753)

    because European countries don't export their culture (e.g., TV and movies) the same way as the US.

    They should. British TV shows are far superior to the total ADD-addled dreck that American TV shows. (I say that as an American.)

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:16AM (#44618821)

    Seriously? There are already at least 2 published standards that can be used with little concern over being cracked any time soon when used properly. Theres absolutely no indication that SMIME or PGP are broken when using the proper algorithm and key sizes.

    I think the point is that encryption is useless against someone that can say, "give us the key or we'll dissappear you."

    Yeah that Snowden guy - totally dead now don't you know?
    Bradley Manning? Also dead. They killed him last week I think.
    Wait, neither of those people, who are guilty of really serious breaches are dead? That's just them trying to lull you into a false sense of security!

    No Snowden fled to the only other countries big enough to make the US back down China then when they looked like the would hand him over soon He ran to Russia.
    Manning they tortured for months and threw in solitary confinement until they broke him, sentenced him in a kangaroo court tribunal then coerced him into apologizing, and finally they tried a homo smear campaign on him to discredit him.
    Then there is Assange who they got their allies to trump up charges to smear his reputation and is hiding in a embassy unable to leave without the black helicopters, black suvs and men in black suits whisking him away to parts unknown to have his naughty bit electrocuted.

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