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Legal bible Groklaw pulls plug in wake of Lavabit shutdown, NSA firestorm

Blogger who tracked epic Linux patent, copyright wars can't rely on email

Website security in corporate America

Blogger Pamela Jones will shut down her award-winning legal news website Groklaw following revelations that the NSA is intercepting the world's internet communications.

Jones, also known as PJ, said in a final farewell article that the shutdown of encrypted email provider Lavabit, used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, had prompted her decision to discontinue the site.

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

Recounting the time her apartment in New York was burgled and how she felt her privacy had been violated as a result, Jones added: "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."

Ladar Levison, Lavabit's owner, closed down his firm after being served with a secret federal court order, which likely sought to induce him to hand over information on Snowden to investigators working on the case.

"I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit," Levinson said in a statement on the firm's homepage. "After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations."

Jones gave similar reasons for shutting down Groklaw, saying there was no way to shield website operators from "forced exposure".

"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," she wrote.

Groklaw started as a law blog just over ten years ago and covered technology-related legal issues surrounding software patents and illegal file sharing, court action against Linux and open-source software (notably the epic battles of SCO v IBM et al), and copyright issues. ®

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