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Tech Law Site Groklaw Closes Down Due to Concerns of Email Surveillance

Groklaw, a technology news site focused on legal issues, has added its name to the list of companies saying they are closing their doors due to fears about government electronic surveillance efforts.

According to founder Pamela Jones, the site is following the footsteps of secure email provider Lavabit and shutting down in light of revelations about the NSA's activities.  

Founded in 2003, Groklaw started as a law blog and has gone on to win a number of awards. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded it a Pioneer Award in 2010. In 2008, the Free Software Foundation also awarded the site with the Award for Projects Social Benefit.

"There is now no shield from forced exposure," Jones wrote today in a blog post. "Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but 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."

"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."

In announcing the company's decision, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison wrote that he was unable to share the details of what prompted his decision, but urged people to think twice before trusting their data to companies with ties to the United States. The same day Lavabit announced its decision, a company called Silent Circle that offers encryption services to protect different types of communication, ended its Silent Mail email service. Silent Circle however still offers services that encrypt text messages and VoIP communications.