PJ, at groklaw, recently realized that the internet, in its present form, is just too tempting for the control freaks who tend to gravitate to the tops of bureaucracies. And that the technology ultimately does not change the traceability of communication.
So, rather than risk receiving a warrant from bureaucrats on out of control fishing expeditions, she has decided to shutter Groklaw, apparently on the theory that operating it is tantamount to operating a honeypot for an out the out-of-control government that the US government has become. (Reference the NSA "revelations".)
In order to avoid argument, she locked comments on her final post. So, instead, the loyal readers are commenting via the previous post.
Many of those who have participated in her forum feel that shuttering it is unavoidable.
As a Christian who believes the Revelation of John, I see the end game. Truth will cover the earth as a flood, but that kind of leaves much of what we have assumed about privacy washed away in the flood. Someday, I'd like to write something about that, but rant like my blog posts will not do.
Why am I posting this here? I'm not sure.
Freedom has never come free. I've been trying to talk directly about that on my free-is-not-free blog. But it seems like I am talking around the real problems, after all. Not directly, at all. I've mentioned some relevant issues in my defining computers blog and pages, as well. (Security is not privacy or freedom, by the way.)
My solution to PJ's conundrum would be to just add a clause in the groklaw's site policies -- that the site operators would try to avoid cooperating with the tyrants in government, but that there are no promises.
That's the most that can be promised, anyway. We have no right to demand that another should put their lives on the line in some pre-programmed way, and that's what making any more promises than that would encompass.
If PJ cannot be comfortable with that, shuttering the site may be the best part of wisdom on her part. We can't judge that.
As far as making technology that would circumvent the attempts of the various governments to use a news forum for their own spying, the only way to make that kind of thing work is to set up a irregular, large volume wash of what is essentially identical to the spam we hate so much, and use steganography to hide the posts in the flow.
And if we could, what would we have done? Nameless voices are, in the end, nameless.
Nameless is good when you are doing what Jesus called "alms". In political movements, temporary anonymity helps keep movements alive in a hostile society, but the movers have to be ready for when the anonymity is inevitably broken. This is part of freedom, the willingness to take a stand in your own name on important issues. That's what redeems Snowden's behavior most of all.
Conclusion? I have none to offer beyond this. Setting up a temporary anonymous zone so that sites like Groklaw can continue is a bit beyond our current technological context.
What the wash looks like, by the way, is essentially pushing the internet to its correct form, fully distributed, every end-user running his or her or their own local servers -- e-mail, news, editorial (blog), etc. Beyond that, I don't have time to describe now, other than pointing to steganography.
We do have to break our current dependence on centralized certification and centralized software distribution. Proprietary IP does not mix well into this. (Go away, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Intel, and all your ilk.) This is a technical requirement.