ISP Owner Finally Able To Admit That He Stood Up To The FBI Over Questionable Data Request

from the only-six-years-later dept

We've noted, repeatedly, that the feds have been caught abusing National Security Letters (NSLs) to try to get information they had no legal right to get. Because these NSLs usually contained an immediate gag order and no judicial review, basically the FBI could request whatever it wanted, and no one would review it and people couldn't speak out against it. So it was great to hear, about three years ago, that one ISP owner recipient of such an NSL was anonymously fighting back, specifically about the required gag order. We were disappointed last year, when a judge refused to drop the gag order, even if the actual request had been dropped by the feds.

However, six years after first receiving the NSL, Nicholas Merrill, the head of Calyx Internet Access is finally able to admit that he's the guy who's been fighting this legal battle. Prior to this, he'd even kept it secret from his fiancee, family and friends -- even when they happened to bring up the case in casual conversation. Of course, this doesn't change that it happened, and even if we keep being told that the feds have been ordered to stop abusing these processes, there's little to no evidence that anything is really being done. For every Nicholas Merrill, you can bet that thousands of others just gave in and didn't put up a fight -- even if the requests were bogus.

There is a clear legal process for obtaining information, involving warrants and judicial oversight. I have no problem with attempts to get information through such means. But when law enforcement routes around those oversight channels, and then tries to gag people from even talking about it, there's a serious problem.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:03pm

    The first rule of gag order club is you do not talk about gag order club

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    I have to commend the man. He's seriously the little guy that fought a huge bureaucracy and won. How he could do that and keep it secret is truly commendable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    rw (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:41pm

    This is just one example of how close to a police state we really are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:45pm

    at least someone is fighting the good fight

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    BillDivX, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

    Ummm...

    "The first rule of gag order club is you do not talk about gag order club"

    I do not think that sounds like what you think it sounds like.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    IN SOVIET RUSSIA... no, it's pretty much the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 7:04pm

    How do you fight a court case without being able to identify yourself as the plaintiff? Is it illegal to say, "hello, your honor, my name is so and so"? Was this case conducted in empty courtrooms? Was he wearing a ski mask while presenting his case?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    Re:

    They must have used the cone of silence

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 7:43pm

    Yay.

    What can one say but "huzzah" for this isp?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    BuzzCoastin (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re: close to a police state

    Dude,the US is not "close to a police state" its there; just try to use the Bill of Rights, go ahead punk, make my day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Brian (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Re:

    No, in Soviet Russia they beat you with a club

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    drkkgt (profile), Aug 10th, 2010 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    here, they beat you with a gavel

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 9:50pm

    Re:

    How do you fight a court case without being able to identify yourself as the plaintiff?

    You can't. That's the beauty of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Re: Yay.

    This man is a hero. He needs a bronze statue of himself erected in a park somewhere. Maybe they could put it next to that stupid bean in Chicago so people would have something worth photographing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    no in soviet russia

    they dont beat you with a club
    they dont use nsls
    they dont in fact do this
    the usa is becoming far worse then russia and usa's abuses run all over the world

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:58am

    What worries me most about this ...

    Historically every country that has gotten to this level of spying, protecting entrenched players, and attempting to control its citizens has failed. It really doesn't bode well for the US government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    aikiwolfie, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    It's reading posts like this that make me glad I don't live in America. The land of the "free"?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    John, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Way to go

    If I could meet this guy I would shake his hand. He is a shining light for freedom and justice. Our Founders put together a pretty good plan to keep us free. We must be forever vigilant for those whom try to circumvent our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    John, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    Don't fool yourself, whereever you live it is not much different. America, in many ways, is still the shining light of Freedom. Once we ban the death penalty and take care of each and every one of our citizens' health needs, we will, again, be on top in every way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    John, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    Don't fool yourself, whereever you live it is not much different. America, in many ways, is still the shining light of Freedom. Once we ban the death penalty and take care of each and every one of our citizens' health needs, we will, again, be on top in every way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Demcracy Now

    I saw his interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, this morning. If you think this is National Security wait until Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gets passed by Congress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re:

    America, in many ways, is still the shining light of Freedom.

    HA HA HA HA HA!
    Good one! Got any more?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:30pm

    Can I sign up with his company?

    I'd like to support this guy by signing on with his business but I can't find a site for Calyx Internet Access. What I have found makes it look like they're New York based. I wonder if they provide service in Denver?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Re: Can I sign up with his company?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Rlee (profile), Aug 14th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Can I sign up with his company?

    You gotta be careful how cut-n-paste from search results; you wound up with ellipses in the link as well as the text. Try this: Calyx Internet Access.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Moe, May 15th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    I am glad that there are companies that are standing up to the government. I would imagine that it would be really hard to do because the consequences could be very severe. Things are definitely heating up between the government and businesses right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Donn C. Irving, Jul 24th, 2012 @ 12:11am

    FBI's sticking it's investigative nose into people's private business.

    Anytime the FBI wants to sick their nose in my private business, it might be interesting to broadcast theirs in public.

    DCI

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Donn C. Irving, Jul 24th, 2012 @ 12:11am

    FBI's sticking it's investigative nose into people's private business.

    Anytime the FBI wants to sick their nose in my private business, it might be interesting to broadcast theirs in public.

    DCI

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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