NSA spying fallout: Guardian hard drives smashed; Groklaw shutdown

Repercussions from the revelations of massive NSA surveillance, the redux:

• The editor of the Guardian — the first newspaper to report about the scope of NSA spying in the age of electronic communications — said press freedom is at risk in Britain after the government (new) compelled it to destroy (end new) destroyed hard drives containing information leaked by former U.S. government tech contractor Edward Snowden. Alan Rusbridger said a government official called him and said, “you’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

Rusbridger wrote about the destruction of the hard drives after the detention at London’s Heathrow airport Sunday of the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the first journalist who wrote about the massive NSA spying program for the Guardian. David Miranda was reportedly held for nine hours under a British anti-terrorism law, then sent on his merry way sans laptop, phone and memory sticks. Miranda has launched legal action in protest, and to try to keep authorities from accessing information from the confiscated items.

Also of note: Rusbridger says he told the government that the physical destruction of the equipment was futile because the Guardian could and has done its reporting from elsewhere. But he does compare the freedom of the press in Britain to that of the press in the United States: “America, for all its own problems with media laws and whistleblowers, at least has press freedom enshrined in a written constitution.”

• As we’ve mentioned, a couple of providers of encrypted email recently canceled services because of reported or potential government requests for user information. One of the services was Silent Circle, and its technical operations manager says it’s almost impossible to create a truly secure email service.

Now an award-winning legal website, Groklaw, is shutting down after more than a decade. Creator Pamela Jones tells readers she can’t continue to run the site “knowing that persons I don’t know can paw through all my thoughts and hopes and plans in my emails with you” — implying that she would not be able to protect her sources from surveillance.

Ars Technica points out this isn’t the first time Groklaw has planned to shut down, but Jones sure sounds like she’s largely giving up. “My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it’s possible. …  I can’t stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible.”


Photo: The offices of the Guardian newspaper in London. (EPA)


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