Statement of Nicholas Merrill, President of Calyx Internet Access Corp. Regarding Secret Service Investigation of Indymedia

August 30, 2004 12:00 am

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I am the president of Calyx, a website hosting and security consulting company incorporated in 1995. On August 17, 2004, the U.S. Secret Service contacted Calyx regarding a post made by an unknown individual to the “”Open Publishing Newswire”” of Calyx’s client, Indymedia. The agent verbally requested information and computer logs even though he had not obtained a valid warrant or subpoena. Because Calyx has a strong policy of protecting the privacy of our clients, I told the Secret Service I would not provide the information without a subpoena. I also contacted the ACLU to obtain legal guidance and to ensure that Calyx’s customers’ rights would be protected.

The Secret Service then obtained a grand jury subpoena and sent it to Calyx’s lawyers at the ACLU. On the advice of ACLU attorneys, Calyx contacted its Indymedia customers. The clients indicated that they had nothing to hide, and therefore authorized Calyx to release the information requested by law enforcement.

Government requests for surveillance services from private corporations are an increasingly common practice. However, in many cases these surveillance requests conflict with the ethical and legal obligation that telecommunications carriers (and other businesses) have to their clients. It is therefore critical for any Internet Service Provider to pay close attention to all law enforcement requests to ensure that they are legally authorized.

The policy of Calyx Internet Access is to respond to all properly authorized law enforcement requests while protecting our clients’ rights to privacy and free speech to the greatest extent the law allows. Although Calyx Internet Access does not necessarily agree or disagree with the viewpoints of any client, the company is committed to defending the rights of all Americans to publish on the Internet.

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