As the lifespan of a legal blog, 10 years is a long time. Thus, it was both notable and regrettable to read yesterday’s announcement by Pamela Jones that she would be discontinuing Groklaw, the legal news blog she has run since May 16, 2003. More disturbing than her decision to shut it down is her reason: Her fear that government surveillance of email is so pervasive that she can no longer operate a blog that relies on email tips from readers.
There is now no shield from forced exposure. … 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.
Run by Jones, a paralegal, with input from a host of contributors over the years, Groklaw won numerous awards over the years, including being named to the 2012 ABA Journal Blawg 100 and being given the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 2010 Pioneer Award.
But is this really Groklaw’s end? For the blog’s fans, worth noting is that this is not the first time Jones announced its end. On April 9, 2011, Jones published a post titled, Groklaw Articles Ending on May 16th. “I have decided that Groklaw will stop publishing new articles on our anniversary, May 16,” she wrote.
Well, that didn’t happen. The response to that announcement prompted her to keep Groklaw going by turning over editor duties to Mark Webbink, a professor at New York Law School, while still intending to discontinue her own contributions. But soon enough she was back at it, both as author and editor. So perhaps Groklaw’s history will repeat itself, and maybe Jones and her blog will return.