More NSA fallout as websites shut up shop over snooping

Popular websites shut up shop over NSA spying
RIP Groklaw

Award-winning legal analysis website, Groklaw, has adroitly illustrated the problem of NSA-style email surveillance on regular citizens.

It's the latest casualty in a string of web services, including secure email services Lavabit and Silent Circle, that have closed due to the extent of the NSA's intrusions.

The site's author and founder, Pamela Jones, decided to shut Groklaw down because of the revelations made by the Guardian about NSA spying.

She explained in a farewell post that she could not continue with the website knowing that encrypted emails can be monitored and kept by agencies like the NSA for up to five years.

This is the chilling effect of mass surveillance in action.

Likening the feeling of knowing her private emails could be read to how she felt after being burgled, she said: "The simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how "clean" we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don't know how to do Groklaw like this."

A worrying trend

She continued: "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."

Speaking to TechRadar, Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties campaign group, said: "This is the chilling effect of mass surveillance in action.

"It should alarm anyone who cares about freedom of speech and highlights why we need to urgently address how powers written many years before the internet was widespread are being used in unforeseen, dangerous ways."

Groklaw was set up in 2003 with the idea to provide legal news specific to the free and open source software community.