Groklaw, an award-winning campaigning website that played a pivotal role in the SCO case (a proxy war in which Microsoft tried to kill GNU/Linux) and others, is shutting down, over the revelation of widespread, deep email surveillance. In an open letter, Pamela Jones, the site's owner, cites the open letter posted by Lavabit founder Ladar Levison when he shut down rather than cooperating in surveillance of his users. Specifically, he said that he'd stopped using email, and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too.
Jones says that she can't run the site without email, and implies that the knowledge that she'd be putting her sources, collaborators and users in jeopardy of surveillance crossed a line for her. She compares the knowledge that her email is being intercepted by the surveillance apparatus to being robbed when she first moved to NYC, "how deeply disturbing it is to know that someone, some stranger, has gone through and touched all your underwear, looked at all your photographs of your family."
She cites the testimony of Primo Levi, an Auschwitz survivor, who said, "solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread," and recommends the services of Kolab, a Swiss mail-provider, for those looking for a haven from snooping.
I feel like that now, knowing that persons I don't know can paw through all my thoughts and hopes and plans in my emails with you.
They tell us that if you send or receive an email from outside the US, it will be read. If it's encrypted, they keep it for five years, presumably in the hopes of tech advancing to be able to decrypt it against your will and without your knowledge. Groklaw has readers all over the world.
I'm not a political person, by choice, and I must say, researching the latest developments convinced me of one thing — I am right to avoid it. There is a scripture that says, It doesn't belong to man even to direct his step. And it's true. I see now clearly that it's true. Humans are just human, and we Gro don't know what to do in our own lives half the time, let alone how to govern other humans successfully. And it shows. What form of government hasn't been tried? None of them satisfy everyone. So I think we did that experiment. I don't expect great improvement.