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Internet engineer plans to build ISP service free from government intrusion

Internet Service Providers
Internet Service Providers
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With American internet users up in arms over government intrusion of their data, searches, and privacy, a former telecom engineer is planning on creating a new business model, where internet use by customers would be free from government spying, wiretapping, and anti-privacy measures.

In an interview on April 11th, Nicholas Merrill laid out his idea of building a non-profit company which would allow for privacy protections on the internet, as well as with cell phone use, that would block unwarranted wiretapping, and unconstitutional government surveilance.

Merrill, 39, who previously ran a New York-based Internet provider, told CNET that he's raising funds to launch a national "non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption" that will sell mobile phone service and, for as little as $20 a month, Internet connectivity.

A decade of revelations has underlined the intimate relationship between many telecommunications companies and Washington officialdom. Leading providers including AT&T and Verizon handed billions of customer telephone records to the National Security Agency; only Qwest refused to participate. Verizon turned over customer data to the FBI without court orders. An AT&T whistleblower accused the company of illegally opening its network to the NSA, a practice that the U.S. Congress retroactively made legal in 2008.

By contrast, Merrill says his ISP, to be run by a non-profit called the Calyx Institute with for-profit subsidiaries, will put customers first. "Calyx will use all legal and technical means available to protect the privacy and integrity of user data," he says.

Merrill is in the unique position of being the first ISP exec to fight back against the Patriot Act's expanded police powers -- and win. -

Since 2008, government intrusion on public privacy in regards to the internet has grown exponentially. With recent arrests in the billion dollar war on internet piracy, Congress has in the past few months sought to expand upon the parameters of the Patriot Act by debating SOPA and PIPA legislation as a means to control information passed between users on the internet.

Additionally, the NSA is currently in the process of building a multi-billion dollar facility that could become the largest communications spying network on the planet. It is projected to be able to monitor every electronic, voice, and internet comminication, and store that data onsite for years to help monitor American habits, purchases, and lifestyles.

Internet privacy and security is a multi-billion dollar industry, with large companies such as McAfee and Norton having software on most PC's in the US. Add the potential security a closed internet service provider could offer users, primarily like the one being proposed by Nicholas Merrill, and you could eliminate the fear of unwanted and unconstitutional spying by the government, or other outside agencies.

With the US courts recently ruling against un-warranted GPS tracking by law enforcement, the potential for an internet service provider to build a network that can provide users privacy against government intrusion may be available very soon. The concept and legal backing of such a network, could change the way Americans accesss the internet, use commerce, and feel safe in the purchases and transactions they do online.