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CA Surveillance Proof ISP?

A new Internet services throwing their hat in the ring and they have a new angle. This provider wants to place customer privacy first and although this company is still in the early planning stages it is clear that they mean business.

Nicholas Merrill, the brains of this operation, takes online privacy seriously. He's creating a business with a simple concept. A telecommunications provider should protect its customers from surveillance both foreign and domestic.

Merrill is not new to the ISP business, and ran a New York-based company for several years. He is already in the fund raising stage of the business and intends to launch what he calls a nonprofit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy through the use of ubiquitous encryption. This company will also provide mobilephone service with a price point around $20 per month as well as Internet service.

Encryption, limited logging, and firewalls galore are not the only means that will be used to protect customers at Merrill's new ISP. Merrill intends to challenge government surveillance demands and refuse cooperation. Merrill stated publicly that this type of surveillance appears to be illegal and unconstitutional and he cannot support it.

AT&T and Verizon have willingly provided billions of customer telephone records to the national security agency. And while Qwest telecommunications refused to participate Verizon turned over customer data to the FBI without a court order. AT&T had a whistleblower accuse them of opening its network to the national security agency illegally. These do not seem like customer friendly actions.

Nicholas Merrill claims that his service will be run by a nonprofit organization and will put customers first this company will use all technical and legal means available to protect the privacy and integrity of all users and user data. This sounds like something that is right up Merrill's alley as he is the first ISP executive to fight back against the patriot act and actually when.

The FBI sent Merrill a national security letter in 2004 asking for confidential information about his company's customers and forbidding him from disclosing the letters existence. He immediately enlisted the ACLU and fought the gag order and won. The FBI was barred by federal judge from invoking that portion of the law as it was unconstitutional and a restraint of free speech.

This particular court case and ongoing dubiously legal spying of American citizens is what inspired Nicholas Merrill to move forward and create his new ISP.