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Pamela 'PJ' Jones: "For Me, The Internet Is Over."

Groklaw Founder bows out once and for all

"[F]or me, the Internet is over," wrote a disillusioned, disenchanted, and disappointed Pamela Jones today, in what she maintains will be her last-ever post to Groklaw, the site she founded in 2003.

Just over ten years later, in the wake of the NSA scandal and the welter of assorted revelations, she explained: "[I]t's not possible to be fully human if you are being surveilled 24/7... I hope that makes it clear why I can't continue. There is now no shield from forced exposure."

In a hymn to privacy – or, rather, a lament to its curtailment by the state – Jones highlighted its importance as one of the fundaments of a decent society by citing authors, activists and thinkers like the late Alan F. Westin, the lawyer and political scientist who published Privacy and Freedom nearly five decades ago, in 1967.

To Westin, control over one’s personal information is an essential aspect of freedom. The very title of his 1967 classic did much to help define the privacy field and his work is widely credited as having helped  shape the way we define online privacy today.

Or used to.

In reality, nowadays, as Pamela Jones ruefully points out, there is no such thing as privacy:

"Harvard's Berkman Center had an online class on cybersecurity and internet privacy some years ago, and the resources of the class are still online. It was about how to enhance privacy in an online world, speaking of quaint, with titles of articles like, "Is Big Brother Listening?"

And how.

You'll find all the laws in the US related to privacy and surveillance there. Not that anyone seems to follow any laws that get in their way these days. Or if they find they need a law to make conduct lawful, they just write a new law or reinterpret an old one and keep on going. That's not the rule of law as I understood the term."

"The foundation of Groklaw is over," Jones declares. "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." [my emphasis]

The post ends:

"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."

Ever the candid impresario of the freedom to be free and of the right to be wrong, Groklaw's charismatic founder concludes, simply, with a note of gratitude to her many thousands of collaborators over the past decade:

"Thank you for all you've done. I will never forget you and our work together. I hope you'll remember me too."

Yes, PJ, we will. You can count on it.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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