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.