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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 Askmum (1038780) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:27AM (#44616611)
    I'm sorry, I can not believe this. This is a prank. This must be. How can you be so spineless to give in to these people? This is the day you have to fight them! And you don't do that by going off the grid.

    Pj, you gutless coward! Come back!
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:27AM (#44616613)

    How would fleeing the US help? Even the fig-leaf of privacy protection afforded to US citizens living at home is completely absent for those who live elsewhere, citizen or otherwise. As long as any component of the runs through the US, the US will continue to reap.

  • by spacepimp (664856) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:28AM (#44616625) Homepage

    This is unprecedented that companies are folding in response to the abuses of the US government. It is not something to ignore and yet we still have anonymous cowards humping the legs of slashdot making sophomoric marginal comments. Keep up the good work AC. You truly are the lowest common denominator.

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

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:39AM (#44616731) Homepage Journal

    The only people I ever see acting like their country is "the best" overall are Americans. A country can be "best" in certain areas, but I don't really see any one country as being "the best" overall. I was brought up in Scotland, and I think I'll continue to live here because 1) It's pretty and temperate, 2) Australia has too many deadly creepy crawlies, 3) the US is too smug.

  • by thoth (7907) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:44AM (#44616785) Journal

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

    But isn't that what all these sites that are shutting down are doing - wimping out?
    I can understand Lavabit, but these others are just folding due to what exactly, uneasy feelings?

  • Re:Notice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:48AM (#44616821) Homepage Journal

    But here is the horrible thing: even if /. has received a National Security Letter... They can't tell you.

    Think about this for just a second. They. Cannot. Tell. You.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:48AM (#44616831)

    You are much more free than before. Because you know more.

    What you see is a forward movement.

    Did you expect the power to just surrender to a future where they don't matter anymore?

    As you know more and more. As you recover what is rightly yours. As you take over the control of your own country. They will fight back. And they will bite and tear down your houses searching for traitors. And they will destroy you, and put you in jails, and kill many of you.

    But you will prevail.

    Because freedom only moves one way.

    You're scared because you're the first ones. There's only darkness ahead. But you shouldn't be, because behind that darkness is the future that will look back and cheer at you as the freedom fighters of this century.

  • Re:It was a myth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:53AM (#44616867)

    You must be European. Europeans tend to be so smug about themselves that they miss the irony in their own statements.

    Hint: Its not unique to America in any way, you're just oblivious to the world around you/outside of America apparently.

    P.S. Irony of a Scotsman claiming he's never seen nationalist pride, fucking priceless dude.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @08:54AM (#44616891)

    It won't. Not until there is a war. And nobody wants a war.

    You must either be very young, or be living in a barrel.

    It has been mentioned by observers outside the US, often enough to become a truism, that America is incapable of functioning without a war, whether declared or not. And history certainly shows that your illustrious leaders like nothing better than to start a nice shiny new war when the cracks in their domestic policy need papering over.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:09AM (#44617069)

    The real translation is that Pamela Jones, who wanted to stop before, wanted to stop again and decided this was a good moment, because she could at the same time make a statement.

  • by hymie! (95907) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:16AM (#44617187)

    As somebody who is being stalked myself [homelinux.net], I believe that the correct way to fight privacy invasion is to keep doing what you're doing, and show the invaders that they cannot intimidate you.

    But I realize that this is a decision each person must make for him/herself, and I am sorry but not necessarily surprised that this is the decision PJ made.

  • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:35AM (#44617449) Homepage

    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

    That makes an EXTREME amount of sense, thank for pointing it out! I guess I should learn to read between the lines rather than taking things so easily at face value... :-(

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:47AM (#44617599)

    She'll always be remembered for the SCO battle. This doesn't mean that she needs to go on and fight this fight also. I wish she'd handed off the site to someone else rather than lock the doors but that's her decision.

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

    by sageres (561626) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:09AM (#44617873)
    Funny when I was growing up in the old Soviet Union, we were told day in and day out that Soviet Union is the best, and the Soviet People are the greatest, and the greatest brother among them was the (ethnic) Russian people. And that we were more free than anyone else, richer than anyone else, and more fair than anyone else. Oh, and that the average boys and girls in America live on the streets and governed by the evil tzar whose name is Reagan and who can not sleep at night tossing and turning just trying to think of the new ways to kill innocent Soviet children...
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:25AM (#44618101) Homepage

    The stunning abruptness of the shutdown and the discussion of Lavabit screams at me that she was hit with an NSA letter. There's no way PJ would yank the plug without warning like that on some whim. Even comments were disabled. If PJ simply wanted to retire the project she would have wound things down gracefully. She would have encouraged the community to stay active. She would have given the community time to look for alternatives. She would have encouraged someone else to take up the job running a successor site.

    I saw nothing in her post that I would call "false information". If she got an NSA letter and didn't mention it, that does not make any of what she wrote untrue. If PJ got an NSA letter with a legal gag order, she would obey it to the letter. But that can't stop her from shutting down the site to refuse to participate, and she knows the community is smart enough to see how utterly out of character such an abrupt shutdown is.

    -

  • by nucrash (549705) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:26AM (#44618111)
    The US government has been corrupt for a long time. The difference now is that Manning and Snowden have basically pulled back the veil of secrecy enough to see that the Wonderful Wizard is nothing more than a crotchety old man. Not even a nice one at that. We have been on a slide since the 1950s. The only way we came to prominence is that the rest of the world leveled itself and somehow, sans Pearl Harbor, we remained untouched. What do you get when you have only one functioning economy in the world? Hello new World Power. The Soviets worked hard to bring themselves backup up to speed and quickly became the second Super Power. The Soviets had a shoddy structure though and fell to pieces because of that. Because of this, the US has lost it's primary enemy and looks around the world for others. Compare the US to Rome, and the history lines up so perfectly it's scary. Look at how the past two presidents tried to take power away from the senate. Look at how we spend more money on entertainment than we do on science or any other industry that will advance us. Look at the type of entertainment we have today where what we watch has little relevance tomorrow rather than something we will watch and cherish years or centuries from now. We are in the bread and circuses phase of the empire. Everyone is poor, but continue to be entertained, so they don't care. Religion is continuing to come into prominence again as it did in the the fall of the Roman empire. The rest of the world is advancing and our ideas are quickly becoming outdated. Our influence on the world is waning and we have very little to show for it. Other than a flag on the moon marking one of our pinnacle moments of advancement.
  • by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:27AM (#44618123)

    For practical purposes, most western countries have strict privacy laws. They also have a healthy fear of secret courts and secret police.

    While there are some three-letter agencies in Europe, their scope and reach is substantially limited.

    It's always worth pointing out that the US (having less than 5% of the world's population) houses over 30% of the world's prisioners and takes people's freedom at a rate nearly double Russia and China and 10-16 times that of most of Europe.

    Despite a similar framework of laws, this particular obsession, itself, belies a pretty specific and astounding obsession with authority and police that is unique among the world (except, maybe, in China).

    This is also one of the myriad reasons I left the US for good several years ago. Good riddance.

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

    by fearofcarpet (654438) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:31AM (#44618201)

    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.

    As an American living in Europe, I could not agree more with that statement. In fact, one of the bigger unifying forces seems to be disdain for the European Union and making fun of the French. (BTW Israel is also an associated country of the EU and I doubt anyone is thinking of Israelis when they say "European.") The idea that a Brit has more in common with a Finn than a collection of treaties their respective governments signed is just wrong. However, this was a difficult concept for me, as an American, to wrap my head around simply because countries here are so tiny (and have such long histories)... they're the size of states, they all belong to a big "union," therefore EU = US is an easy shorthand. It is really difficult to see things from the other side of the Atlantic until you spend a few years here because European countries don't export their culture (e.g., TV and movies) the same way as the US.

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

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:02AM (#44618627)
    Did you know that the United States is made up of many states that are overall very different and spread across a wide geographical area? We even have our own separate laws. I am from Missouri and find it frustrating to be lumped in with Texans.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quarterbuck (1268694) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:21AM (#44618889)
    You must not have met any Germans
    I had a German teacher years ago. She walked into the class and asked what the first thing that came to our minds when Germany was mentioned was. I jumped in with Rammstein (the band) a microsecond before the rest of the class jumped in with Hitler. I was on her favorites list for the rest of the year.
    The Germans don't put out flags outside their houses, don't send armies off to strange lands, don't do national anthems or celebrate Germany (except in soccer games). Spanish are rather smug about Columbus etc. but at least they let the South Americans into their country far more easily than US does. All of Eastern Europe is full of un-smug countries too -- if anything their pride sounds like pride a Philadelphian might take in their city than a nationalistic one. Dutch are easygoing, Nordic countries are rather welcoming (if you eat their food).
    OK, The French are a bit smug (or don't speak English very well - can't say for sure), and the British are rather proud of their colonial past but otherwise most of Europe is rather quiet.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zieroh (307208) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:21AM (#44618893)

    Very doubtful. Groklaw doesn't represent sensitive communications on the scale that the NSA or CIA would care about. PJ is delusional if she really thinks anyone in the government gives a damn about her site and the emails between her and her collaborators.

    Having started browsing Groklaw again after several years absence, it is my personal observation that Groklaw is a pale shadow of its former self. PJ's posts lately seem like painfully-biased missives against the companies that don't share her specific values (putting aside the fact that the companies she sides with don't either) as she willfully ignores the subtler details of every single issue she reports on in order to continue her angry screeds. That's not journalism. It's not even entertaining.

    I think deep down, PJ knows this. And I think this closure is just a convenient excuse to get out. Good riddance, says me.

    (And this is coming from someone who was very pro-Groklaw during the SCO saga).

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

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @11:42AM (#44619219)
    Maybe that is the real measure of greatness. If I had won a Nobel prize in physics, in every argument I wouldn't ask, "How many Nobels have you won, again?" And I wouldn't get a T-Shirt saying, "Nobel prize winner here, make way." But if I(as I really am sans-Nobel) were in a room full of Nobel prize winners I would have trouble restraining myself from trying not to show off the two grains of knowledge I do have; just so I wouldn't feel stupid.

    People often bring up Hitler and the Nazis in their arguments; but I have an much more interesting one. The Japanese; they were not destined to the craziness of WWII. They actually started out by aggressively building their economy and along with it their military. But they wanted to be respected by the western powers and sit at the big boy's table. But then their military industrial complex began pushing harder and harder for more aggressive excursions into the rest of Asia. Most of Asia, including China, was weak compared to Japan so they made for easy targets. So the harder the military industrial complex pushed the more success they had and resources available for the taking.

    But this behavior was not really in sync with the Japanese people's desires. They didn't want their sons off fighting/dying in wonky places. They didn't want huge numbers of other people killed for their coal. So the hawks in the government and industry did their damnedest to quell any descent. People were hauled in for questioning and generally bad things happened to people who spoke out. So people quickly learned that to go along with the madness was the safest route. Thus there was no questioning of the propaganda so people could even ignore the terrible direction their country was heading.

    Now we have the exact same thing happening in the western world. Grocklaw is being shut down? Make a list of the evil companies in the US and see how many of those have been shut down? None? Grocklaw is one of the few organizations that is working against the madness.

    Then look at the two countries that Snowden and Assange fled to. It is madness that these are places of refuge. Even my Canada is going bonkers. I am so proud that we were where the draft dodgers came yet we recently sent a guy back to the US who effectively was a draft dodger. If Canadians had been able to vote on his stay there would have been a resounding yes. But our government is buying into this madness lock stock and barrel.

    But what is the answer? Prior to WWII many Germans could see what was coming so they fled Europe. Wasn't easy but for many it saved their lives. But right now nearly every country in the world is either playing with the US; often in secret.

    So again, an interesting table could be made of all the world's countries levels of Rah rah and self aggrandizement; and then compare it to a table of the least happy and free countries.
  • Re:It was a myth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toddles666 (814422) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @02:54PM (#44622097)
    Erm, I think the Germans have been forced to repress the flag-waving, army-exporting, "We're better than everyone!" aspect of their culture, at the end of a gun, no less. IIRC, that attitude got them into quite a bit of trouble about 70-80 years ago.

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