GrokLaw tantrum

A website called GrokLaw closed down recently, supposedly because of US snooping into email. The response of the internet chattering classes has generally been supportive and upset. I don't understand why. I think it is one of the daftest things I have heard in a long time.

First, the story so far. As the Beebeebseeb reported

An award-winning legal news website has stopped work, saying it cannot operate under current US surveillance policies.
Pamela Jones, Groklaw's founder, cited the alleged US practice of screening emails from abroad and storing messages "enciphered or otherwise thought to contain secret meaning" for five years.
Groklaw had promised its sources anonymity, but said it could not now ensure contributors would stay secret.

That's more succinct than the original GrokLaw post, which finally ends up by saying

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.

This is an emotive over-reaction. It is tripe.

How having a few spooks examining one's email constitutes "losing my humanness" is beyond me. As I have written before, for most of human history we lived so cheek-by-jowl that we knew who and how you bonked, and what the state of your bowels was. Having no privacy is the natural human condition.

Moreover, I sincerely hope that when Pamela says "I can't really hope for that" she means she would hope for everyone to get off the internet, not that she would hope for world economic collapse. To wish us back into the Dark Ages would reveal her to be an anarchist twit. To hope for global human misery would be a tantrum indeed.

A lesser over-reaction, but an over-reaction nonetheless, is closing the website down because she can no longer guarantee anonymity of email sources. Putting aside the fact that emails have been insecure since time immemorial (these days "time immemorial" means over twenty years) and that she is worried about potential hypothetical cracking of secured emails some time in the distant future, let's examine how else she could have dealt with this.

She could have just not guaranteed anonymity for all time any more - as if she ever could have. People could take their risks with the courage of their convictions.

Or she could have proposed that those who were sensitive about the information they were sharing could have written her a letter. You know, those paper things. "They" need a warrant to open those.

Or she could stop flattering herself that the NSA would take an interest in reflections on the legal spats of the technology industries.

I too am upset because GrokLaw was clearly a valuable online resource. I'm upset that it has been lost, but I'm doubly upset that it has been lost for such a dumb reason. Personally I think she just wanted an out.

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