Most of you aren’t familiar with a blog called Groklaw. It’s a legal blog that would only appeal to a very few. But the owner of the site, Pamela Jones, announced in a blog post that she has decided to shut down her site and remove herself from the Internet. And the reasons she gives are the recent moves from private e-mail services such as Lavabit and Secret Circle to shut down their businesses in order to protect customers from government surveillance.
While Pamela Jones and her Web blog may be obscure and unknown to you, her final blog post is chilling and, I’m afraid, prescient. So I’ve included an excerpt from her final article and I urge you to read the rest of it (link provided after the excerpt) – because although you may not know Pamela Jones, she has something to say to each one of you.
“…I hope that makes it clear why I can’t continue. 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…”
Please read the final entire article by Pamela Jones –you may think it has nothing to do with you, but it does. What happens to one of us, happens to all of us — and it happens because not enough of us care enough to stand up for what is right – and that includes myself.
Never forget, the United States Government was founded by rebels, men and women who sought freedom from the tyranny of the King of England. The United States of America was formed by brave men of great intellect, who were called terrorists by the king, whose biggest fears were not of the people, but of a creating a government which could ever become too powerful.
They created safeguards, a bicameral congress, and separate judicial and executive branches, not so they could act in collusion, but so they could check each others’ powers. So these men, our founding fathers as we have come to call them, created a constitution, with many built-in safeguards to keep the government out of our private lives, and to keep it from beoming too powerful; indeed, they took great care to keep it from becoming just another tyrannical form of government.
In addition to the safeguards they built into the constitution, they also included what we now call The Bill of Rights”. And they established The Bill of Rights to prevent our government from trampling on our freedoms – or becoming a police state – and to make sure every citizen was given equal opportunity to pursue his or her God-given right to life, liberty and happiness without undo interference from any government.
And now, not because of one president, or two presidents, but because of the slow erosion of our constitutional protections over many administrations and congresses, most all of them created under the guise of national security or safety — for our security — we have all lost some, if not all of our privacy.
From the stoplight cameras, to the license plate scanners, to the cameras on street corners, to the halls of congress, to the Oval Office, to the NSA, IRS, CIA, FBI, and right down to your state and local governments, your privacy and your rights are under attack. Your right to the expectation of privacy has vanished, and your other rights are seriously being abridged.
And all of us seem willing and ready to sacrifice our precious rights and our privacy for a little extra safety and security. Unfortunately the safety and security are an illusion, but the diminishing of our constitutional rights and the loss of our personal right to privacy are not.
It’s too bad that people who expose the government or who criticize the government, or those who try so hard to change the course we are on, are called “traitors” or “terrorists” or ”anti-government nut jobs”. I don’t think Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams – or any of the others who tried so hard to ensure that we the people were free from an oppressive government, as well as from serious governmental and illegal intrusions into our private daily lives were anti-government nut jobs, do you?
In the end, we are all to blame, because we have all allowed it to happen. We all stood by and watched while our private lives were being invaded and our freedoms diminished. We allowed ourselves to fear that something else was going to happen, something terrible, something unknown and catastrophic– and the government took advantage of that fear and played on it — and used it as an excuse to suspend some of our constitutional rights, to invade our privacy and thus make a mockery of Abraham Lincoln’s plea that “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this Earth”.
I’m glad I’m not a twenty-something right now. I feel sorry for our children and grandchildren and their children. If things go unaltered in the future, none of them will ever know the freedom that most of us enjoyed when we were children and young adults growing up — when we all enjoyed the freedoms and privacy guaranteed by our constitution – which now has become a torn and shredded document. And most of the damage has been done because almost all of us let our fear overcome reason — and the government seized more power by using our fears to control us.
Maybe someday, someone will come along and lead a revolt and take our country back, not in a political way, but in a human way.
It’s not one administration’s fault — to blame one president for all our woes is wrong – the facts show a different history. Our rights have been slowly taken away or altered over many administrations — and all three branches of our government, rather than checking each others’ powers have colluded to create a governmental juggernaut that now will be almost impossible to stop.
In the end is your fault, and it’s my fault. We stood by in fear and let the government take away some of our constitutional freedoms, and now our privacy. Where will it end?
Samuel Johnson wrote that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”, and I couldn’t agree more.