Pamela Jones, founder of tech legal blog Groklaw, has announced that she will shut down the site, amidst concern about government surveillance.
In what she said is the last post to Groklaw.net, Jones said that recent revelations about information-gathering techniques used by the National Security Agency, FBI, and others have left her uncomfortable about using the web.
"I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere," Jones wrote.
Jones was spurred into action after two encrypted email services - Lavabit and Silent Circle - said they would shut down to avoid government scrutiny. "The owner of Lavabit tells us that he's stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too," Jones wrote. "There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum."
Details about NSA programmes emerged earlier this year when a former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked documents to The Guardian, which has been publishing the information over the past few months. The NSA has argued that average Americans are not under surveillance and that its programmes target those who seek to do harm to the US. The secretive nature of its efforts, however, have left many questions unanswered and prompted concern about just how much the feds really know.
For Jones, the concern is big enough that she will "get off of the Internet to the degree it's possible."
"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," she said.
Jones likened the surveillance to a break-in she endured after first moving to New York City. "I can't tell how deeply disturbing it is to know that someone, some stranger, has gone through and touched all your underwear, looked at all your photographs of your family, and taken some small piece of jewelry that's been in your family for generations," Jones said. "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."
Jones disabled comments on her post, and thanked her supporters. "For me, the Internet is over," she concluded.
Groklaw dates back to May 2003; "It is our hope that law professors will use the materials in their classes and that historians now and in the future will take advantage of this material, and that it will be a permanent record of this historic time," according to its About page.
It is perhaps best known for its efforts in the SCO/Linux fight, which as ReadWrite notes, was not exactly a walk in the park for Jones.
"I've always been a private person," Jones insisted. That, according to ReadWrite, is why her move makes some sense. "If the U.S. intelligence community is indeed taking steps to intercept e-mails in a non-targeted manner, then it is clear why Jones is stepping away: she cannot feel safe working in this medium any longer," the blog noted.