Concerns over NSA surveillance have led yet another website, the legal analysis blog Groklaw, to shut down. Groklaw has covered legal issues related to open source software, patents, and technology at large for over a decade, but citing the insecurity of email, founder Pamela Jones said that she must now follow Lavabit's lead and close up shop. "The owner of Lavabit tells us that he's stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too," Jones writes. She says that communication with her readers is completely vital to the site's existence. "There is no way to do Groklaw without email."
The primary reason for closing Groklaw appears to be how revealing metadata about communications can be. Was the NSA to be monitoring the metadata going to and from Groklaw, the agency could know what parties Jones has been in contact with, and how frequently she's contacted them. Her concerns don't stop at metadata, however — she notes both that the NSA is reported to see all emails going in and out of the US, and that the agency holds onto encrypted emails for five years. Jones suspects that the NSA is hoping that five years will be long enough to tear down any encryption.
"For me, the internet is over."
Jones' sentiment echoes what Silent Circle, operator of a now-shuttered secure email service, said last week about it being impossible for two people to have a completely private conversation online. Together, the series of shutdowns can appear as much like grandstanding as politically necessitated actions, but it would seem that all of the sites' founders believe that they're doing a service to their readers and users through termination rather than continuing with an air of security. As noted by Tim Bray, Jones has committed to ending Groklaw in the past before reversing course — but for her part, she claims to be committed this time to standing behind her words. "I can't stay online personally without losing my humanness," Jones writes. "For me, the Internet is over."