RIP Groklaw

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 am, August 21st, 2013 - 28 comments
Categories: blogs, john key, law, peter dunne - Tags: , , , ,

Groklaw has been an inspirational blog for many with an interest in geekery or the law. I read it daily during the years of the SCO trial. PJ and her team were and are amazing – they had significant input into the legal case that defeated SCO, and showed us all a model of how an online community could be organised and run both rationally and effectively. Long Live Groklaw!

But now it’s over. Selections from PJ’s last post:

Forced Exposure

The owner of Lavabit tells us that he’s stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we’d stop too.
There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.

What to do?

What to do? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure it out. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad. But it’s good to be realistic. And 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.

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 US out or to the US 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.

I’m really sorry that it’s so. I loved doing Groklaw, and I believe we really made a significant contribution. But even that turns out to be less than we thought, or less than I hoped for, anyway. My hope was always to show you that there is beauty and safety in the rule of law, that civilization actually depends on it. How quaint.

If you have to stay on the Internet, my research indicates that the short term safety from surveillance, to the degree that is even possible, is to use a service like Kolab for email, which is located in Switzerland, and hence is under different laws than the US, laws which attempt to afford more privacy to citizens. I have now gotten for myself an email there, p.jones at mykolab.com in case anyone wishes to contact me over something really important and feels squeamish about writing to an email address on a server in the US. But both emails still work. It’s your choice.

My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it’s possible. I’m just an ordinary person. But I really know, after all my research and some serious thinking things through, that I can’t stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I’ve always been a private person. That’s why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours.

Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world’s economy would collapse, I suppose. I can’t really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over.

So this is the last Groklaw article. I won’t turn on comments. Thank you for all you’ve done. I will never forget you and our work together. I hope you’ll remember me too. I’m sorry I can’t overcome these feelings, but I yam what I yam, and I tried, but I can’t.

This is a tragedy. And it’s the world that the Key-Dunne spying bill is bringing ever closer to NZ.

28 comments on “RIP Groklaw”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Sheeeezus. The ending of globalisation but the rise of global empire.

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    I’d be very interested in Lprent’s take on this.

    Is Internet anonymity dead, or have the NSA revelations simply exposed a market opportunity?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Internet anonymity never existed. What you did on the internet was always tracked by the ISPs, your emails always recorded. The only difference is that people now know that it is and that governments will be looking at the data.

      What we should be asking is: What needs to be done to ensure that it’s not recorded and tracked unless a warrant exists?

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1.1

        Yes, and until someone effectively fills the gap in the market this will have a chilling effect upon private and professional communications.

  3. Paul Campbell 4

    This is really sad – Groklaw’s done such a great job over the years starting with the SCO shenanigans to covering the various ongoing IP lawsuits – if you want to understand how US law works it’s always been a great place to go.

    PJ’s been threatened, stalked by PIs, put up with so much crap and still held firm.

    Og course it’s important to note that the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill would effectively make an encrypted email service like Lavabit impossible in NZ since they could be forced to give up their keys and to use equipment and software mandated by the GCSB.

    Maybe it’s time to buy Tuvalu before it slips under the waves and start up a datahaven on stilts just to provide the world with the privacy it deserves

    • alwyn 4.1

      Please, would someone tell me what SCO means in this context?
      It can’t be Scotland, much less the Scottish Chamber Orchestra which are what Google gives me.

      • Paul Campbell 4.1.2

        SHG has the reference – basically it was a dieing company with some funding from Microsoft tried to bring down Linux claiming bits of it were stolen from code that they didn’t actually own

        (disclaimer: a company I worked for had business dealings with a previous incarnation of SCO, we were ripped off)

  4. Tracey 5

    Judith Collins has just explained how the impact of knowing her emails and those of her department could be read by the head of the inquiry was “chilling” for her.

    Could someone ask her next week in question-time?

    Does Judith Collins have anything to hide in the inquiry into who leaked the GCSB report? If NO

    Supplementary

    What does she have to fear that made the possibility so “chilling” for her?

  5. Sable 6

    The death of free speech on the internet is really indicative of the loss of free speech in general. The internet inspired open collaboration, the exchange of ideas and above all, innovation. It mostly made peoples lives better but I agree with this writer, its over.

    As long as National, John Keys and his ugly spy laws are allowed to persist and exist we have no real freedom left in New Zealand. After its passed and it will be, I personally will be reducing my internet use to simple exchanges, it will become a blunt tool for cursory communication.

    What I’ll also add is I have no confidence in National or Labour. I still can not grasp why people vote for either or persist in thinking Labour in any real sense is still a left leaning party. They have both consistently shown they can not be trusted and yet here we are. What this means for our society, who knows. For myself I won’t be staying in NZ after 2013. Six years of this repellent monster is quite enough.

  6. Bob 7

    Wow, were the Police, NZSIS or NZ Defense force requesting their metadata? And who were they conversing with in order for the head of the GCSB and the PM to sign off for the GCSB to release their metadata? And what would have been contained within that metadata for there to been sufficient reason for a secondary warrant to release the content of their emails? Also why weren’t they worried about the SIS using their existing powers to view this obviously (if all of the above could be signed off) illegal activity?

    Were these guys using illegal means to fund this Groklaw site, or have they just started wearing tinfoil hats?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1

      Is this some witless tiresome rehash of Joseph Goebbel’s remark that if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear?

      Firstly, I’d like to say that I think we should treat people who advance that argument the way our parents and grandparents did: with extreme prejudice, and secondly, do you have curtains?

    • Paul Campbell 7.2

      No Groklaw has depended in the past on anonymous sources spilling the beans about nefarious dealings by the rich and powerful – they are closing because they feel that they cannot adequately protect their sources in the current government spying on everyone environment

    • lprent 7.3

      That site is no different from the way I run this site. See the privacy section of the about. This current GCSB bill and the others like here and in the States is one of the main reasons that this site is distributed offshore despite its 95% NZ readership, and partially hidden behind a screen of proxy servers.

      If our dipshit current minister of security doesn’t hesitate to illegally violate privacy laws against his own ministers, and appears to has little or no idea of the results of his lawmaking, then why should I trust this victim of hubris to not attack his political opponents on the net?

      You really are quite quite stupidly onlu thinking of the short-term… If this kind of thing happens too much, then the net will eventually be abandoned by the people who currently help make it run. Instead it will be left to the dumbarses like Key who couldn’t read their own e-mails without massive amounts of help.

  7. tracey 8

    Collins and banks obviously have stuff to hide bob.

  8. JonL 9

    Sorry, “Bob” just doesn’t get it….like so many of the other clueless dimwits out there……….

  9. infused 10

    Emails are not encrypted. Why are people getting their panties in a bunch over this now?

    • lprent 10.1

      I have (and always did) encrypt a reasonable number of mine with people I have shared keys with. It has been part of every email system in one form or another I’ve used since I was pushing mail around in uucp.

      Too sophisticated for you?

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        It can be done but it’s such a PITA to do so putting it out of range of the average user and a lot of people don’t know that it can be done at all.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.1.1.1

          That’s what some people call a gap in the market.

        • lprent 10.1.1.2

          …putting it out of range of the average user…

          Oh I agree. But for some reason some people I have been working for/with don’t like shipping code and keys over unencrypted systems subject to man-in-the-middle access. e-Mail was a convenient way to wrap encrypted blocks. But it was a bit irritating for anything large. PGP helped a lot.

          For quite a while I used VPN’s because microsoft supported them on windows servers. But they’re quirky and the way that microsoft charges for connections is ridiculous.

          These days I’m on linux almost exclusively except when I’m testing code for windows, osx, and android. So I mostly use openssh. Works well for everything except windows where putty+pageant or even the ported openssh suck to work with.

          But generally a public/private key system with a reasonable bit size is pretty good if you can protect the keys,

  10. jamiep 11

    You will be like I am here, where even though I have VPN on and will turn on technical support from kapersky, I still know someones on my computer and you know when they come on because you have typed in a few key words like China that has alerted them to spy on you and when you try to open some panels they won’t open because they don’t want you to know that it isn’t the internet connection that your suppose to be on but an unknown public.
    I am not the greatest getting around a computer but that’s what is like around here and routinely most days they will scan your computer so you need to change your VPN to another country (different IP address). I don’t have anything to hide, this is your future NZ welcome to it. Sleeping Dogs

  11. Rather stupid abandoning the internet because it’s now common knowledge that there is no internet privacy unless you keep ahead of the spies.
    Sort of devalues the sacrifice of the whistleblowers to inform us so we can keep ahead.
    I don’t hear anyone saying we should stop demonstrating in public.
    There are some rights to die for.
    So keep ahead of the spies, and spread disinformation when necessary.
    The Bolsheviks had Tsarist spies sitting on their central committee. Since they were there they were put to work.
    When the Bolsheviks set the date for the insurrection, three members of the central committee published the date in Pravda.
    It didnt matter since the Bolsheviks had already won over the ranks of the army.

    • Murray Olsen 12.1

      The Canadian Communist Party always knew who the spies were, because they were the only ones who always paid their subs on time.

      I like to remember that if they’re not watching us, they have nothing to fear. And they should be in fear of the day that we bring their fake, exploitative, planet destroying world down around their ears. As red rattler says, we have to adapt, we have to learn, and we have to keep fighting. Running for the hills is not an option.

  12. Bladelores 13

    @ redrattler yep we shouldn’t stop using the net we just need to boot the government off and reclaim it back. Electronic Bill of Rights needed as quickly as possible. In regards to no one saying you cannot demonstrate in public – The Beginning = http://www.lawsociety.org.nz/lawtalk/issue-817/sop-sinks-mining-protesters-
    So everyone needs to take off their wet toweling hats, wipe your tears away and start working on how we will change this situation, we have all been forced into, no matter how ignorantly, all of us have been forced into. There is a huge amount of people unhappy about this.
    And just heard about Shearer as I am typing, what is Labour upto? Finally an issue that you could have used to get into power but no, show how unstable you all are. Nice.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • All Kiwis to have same standard of cancer care
    Labour is promising that all New Zealanders will have access to the same level of cancer care no matter where they live in the country, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “As someone who has survived cancer I ...
    13 hours ago
  • Infrastructure announcement too long coming
    “What took you so long?” is Labour’s response to the Government’s announcement of a new infrastructure investment vehicle. Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says Labour announced its policy in 2015 to debt-finance infrastructure and service that debt with targeted ...
    13 hours ago
  • Time for a breather on immigration
    National has no idea how to house the record number of people entering New Zealand, let alone cope with the pressure on health, education, and transport from this record population growth, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour to invest $4 billion in education
    Labour’s Education Manifesto will bring positive change across the education sector and is backed by a massive investment, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Labour’s plan will see an extra $4 billion invested over the next four years. It’s organised ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s shame: worst homelessness in the OECD
    National’s legacy is a housing crisis that has given New Zealand the worst homeless rate in the developed world, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour taking action on school donations
    Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour has always been committed to a world-class free education ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour to work with Queenstown to build more houses
    Labour will work with Queenstown-Lakes District Council, iwi, and the Community Housing Trust to build the modern, affordable housing Queenstown desperately needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    4 days ago
  • Nats blow the Budget on motels after bowling state houses
    National is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels, the legacy of nine years of selling off and knocking down state houses, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    4 days ago
  • New revelations in Joanne Harrison report
    The State Services Commission’s report into the treatment of whistle-blowers by Joanne Harrison has revealed new accusations against the convicted fraudster, says Labour MP Sue Moroney.  “The report found that four staff inside the Ministry of Transport who had raised ...
    4 days ago
  • Snafu at Princess Margaret
    Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “The Government must accept that Christchurch is still recovering ...
    4 days ago
  • Labour’s fiscal plan to build a fairer New Zealand
    Labour will re-build our housing, health and education while responsibly managing New Zealand’s finances, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “Under Labour’s Fiscal Plan we will deliver big investments in the services we all need and care about, invest ...
    5 days ago
  • Nats show they’re the tax dodgers’ best friends
    The government is taking the knife to IRD at a time when we need a highly skilled department to ensure that multinationals and speculators don’t get away with dodging tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour secures the future for NZ Super
    A Labour Government will secure the future for New Zealand Superannuation so we can continue to provide superannuation to those retiring at age 65, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “One of the first things a Labour-led Government will ...
    5 days ago
  • Multinationals must pay fair share of tax
    A Labour Government will crack down on multinational companies that are dodging paying their fair share of tax, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealanders are missing out by hundreds of millions according to the IRD because multinational companies can ...
    6 days ago
  • ACT’s approach to children backward and ill informed
    Act’s new deputy leader’s claim that Labour’s support for families could “extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse” is ill informed and offensive, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury hatchet job a disgrace
    The Government’s glib acceptance of advice that the Canterbury District Health Board doesn’t need more money is a hatchet job and a disgrace, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “To claim that the DHB was using tactics to leverage more ...
    1 week ago
  • Quality for Kiwi kids at ECE
    After more than a decade of rapid growth in the number of children participating in Early Childhood Education (ECE), it’s time to take stock and map out a clear plan for the future, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to boost ECE quality
    Labour will ensure kids get the best start in life by boosting funding for Early Childhood Centres to employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will stump up a million dollars for Maniototo Hospital
    A Labour led Government will make a million dollars available to rebuild the Maniototo Base hospital in Ranfurly, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “This will be a much needed boost for a long overdue rebuild that has ...
    1 week ago
  • No vision for the West Coast
    The West Coast welcomes any Government investment in our region but the lack of any real alternative vision for the West Coast’s economy is disappointing, says Damien O’Connor Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP.  “The establishment of a Mining Research Unit will ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s youth work scheme too little too late
    After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis won’t fall for Joyce’s spin
    Steven Joyce’s embarrassingly obvious spin on Labour’s Families Package won’t fool anyone, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour prioritises families and public services
    Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis can’t sleep in your ghost houses, Nick
    The Government’s housing infrastructure announcement is another Nick Smith special – over-promising with no detail on delivery, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
    Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must rule out retrospective override for Ruataniwha
    National must categorically rule out using retrospective legislation to override the Supreme Court’s decision that the land swap of conservation land flooded by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was illegal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker. “Having not got their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s failure a win for Māori landowners
    The Māori Development Minister’s admission that his unpopular Ture Whenua Māori Bill won’t pass into law prior to the election is a victory for Māori landowners, but only a change of government will keep the Bill gone for good, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats confirm growing housing shortfall
    National’s failure to fix the housing shortage has been starkly illustrated by new statistics, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Systemic abuse of kids in state care
    After admitting there was systemic abuse of children in State care the Government must do the right thing and launch an independent inquiry, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Migrant worker exploitation needs sharper focus
    The astonishing number of employers found guilty of exploiting migrants shows that migrant exploitation is a serious problem in New Zealand, says Labour Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “A total of 53 companies have been banned from recruiting ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister faces questions over dam debacle
    Today’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing an appeal to allow a land swap for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam is a victory for our conservation estate and Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, but leaves the Conservation Minister with serious questions to answer, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Too little too late on Wellington housing
    The announcement today on social housing in Wellington by the National Government is a pitiful and cynical election ploy, says Labour’s Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson. “In 2012 Housing New Zealand emptied out the Gordon Wilson Flats, taking 130 places ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Foreign trusts wilt in the sunlight, but more transparency needed
    The fact that the numbers of foreign trusts registered in New Zealand has plummeted after the Government’s belated and reluctant imposition of a new reporting regime, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, shows the need for a transparent, ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Speech by Grant Robertson: The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision
    At the election in September voters will face a choice between a government led by Andrew Little with a fresh approach to give every New Zealander a fair share in prosperity or the continuation of a tired government, out of ...
    3 weeks ago