A Privacy Advocate Seeks Public Help To Build A Spy-Proof ISP

The Patriot Act of 2001 is just one example of how the U.S. government is trying to legally beef up its electronic surveillance power on the Internet Service and other digital communications networks. But for Nicholas Merrill, the increasing amount of such government powers has sparked the drive to build a communication service that puts its customers’ privacy first and foremost. And he’s seeking your dollars to help to do it.

According to CNET‘s Declan McCullagh, Merrill is a former operator of a New York-based Internet Service Provider (ISP) who was sent by the FBI “a secret ‘national security letter’ (not an actual court order signed by a judge) asking for confidential information about his customers” in February 2004. And for six years, he and the ACLU fought the secret federal request–and won.

Now, Merrill has started the Calyx Institute, a “non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption.” The idea: The end users control their own data — and the encryption used–so the ISP cannot comply with any federal requests made.

Merrill has raised through crowd-funding service Indiegogo about $28,500 of the $1 million Calyx needs for a “bare-bones launch” of the ISP, which could privacy-enhanced Net service for as low as $20 per month.

This Internet provider pledges to put your privacy first. Always. [CNET]
Non-profit ISP wages war on FBI and DOJ by putting privacy first [Boy Genius Report]
Plaintiff who challenged FBI’s national security letters reveals concerns
[Washington Post]