Nick Merrill

Founder, The Calyx Institute

Nick Merrill
Nicholas Merrill founded Calyx Internet Access Corporation in 1995. Calyx Internet Access was one of the first commercial Internet service providers operating in New York City. Within a few years, Calyx opened a sister company in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Calyx pursued relationships with and worked with many non-profit organizations on a pro bono basis and also had a number of blue chip for-profit businesses in its client roster.

In 2004, after receiving a demand for information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Nick became the first party to ever challenge the National Security Letters provision of the USA PATRIOT Act. Nick and Calyx filed suit against the US Department of Justice and became involved with using the legal system and the media to resist illegal government requests for information on Internet users. For six and a half years, Merrill and the ACLU tirelessly challenged the orders contained in the letter as well as the associated non-disclosure (“gag”) order. The litigation resulted in the judicial invalidation or narrowing of several controversial surveillance provisions, and it led to significant legislative changes as well. It also led to a Department of Justice internal investigation that uncovered thousands of instances of abuse.

In 2010, after winning a partial release from the gag order, Nick founded The Calyx Institute – a non-profit organization whose goal is to reform the Telecommunications industry with regard to privacy and freedom of expression. When he learned about Nick’s plans, Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation immediately asked to join the Calyx advisory board, writing, “I do think this is the sort of transformative and disruptive project that could reverberate nationally and beyond. […] It's the sort of project that would yield huge rewards if successful, but because it's also high risk, is most likely to appeal to Silicon Valley types.”

Nick is a recipient of the ACLU’s Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s Patriot Award.

He has written two Op-Ed pieces for the Washington Post, one of which was the only anonymous op-ed ever published in the paper. He has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Wired, Forbes, and has appeared on National Public Radio.


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