AMITIAE - Tuesday 20 August 2013

RIP Groklaw - When you want to know more: Well, now you can't

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By Graham K. Rogers


With some of the recent revelations about the NSA spying on US citizens (accidentally they claim) and perhaps more significantly - for those of us not in the United States - making it clear that the rest of the world is considered fair game. Other governments, particularly the UK, also have dirty hands.

It is no surprise to see some readjustments taking place even as the governments themselves tighten the noose and make full use of legislation to pressurise those who come within their grasp, in some cases exceeding the remit of the laws they claim to be using. This is no protection. Some with long memories (or access to good libraries) may want to examine history. What we see today is the start of a decline.

Already we have seen the voluntary closure of a couple of email services whose operators were concerned that, were they not to cease operations, the government (in these cases, the US) would impose controls on them that they could not legally avoid. As a measure of the ridiculousness of the current situation, one of them, Lavabit, was threatened with prosecution for the very act of shutting down.

Other services must be complying with the barely legal requests for information - under FISA and other laws - from the security services, or in some cases, just handing over information to keep the NSA, FBI and other agencies sweet.

Cassandra Some services, following the example of Lavabit, must also be considering what actions to take (or not to take) and where they must go from here. Sadly, Pamela Jones from the the well-known service Groklaw, has called it a day and in a moving essay on the Groklaw site, explains her reasoning with some valuable quotes. That it should come to this is sobering.

RIP, Groklaw: When you want to know more.

Well, now you can't. . . .

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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