For years after receiving a national security letter from the FBI, he was an anonymous litigant and unnamed op-ed writer, barred by a gag order from revealing that he had received a warrantless demand for customer information. Now, Nicholas Merrill's gag order has been lifted in full, and – apparently for the first time – an NSL recipient can speak openly without fear of punishment.
Merrill, owner of now-defunct Calyx Internet Access, provided Internet service to about 200 customers when he received the order in February 2004. He refused to turn over the records of the targeted customer and went to court with American Civil Liberties Union representation.
Merrill won the right to identify himself in 2010, but could not say what the ultimately withdrawn letter said. In August, a federal judge ordered the associated gag order lifted, with a 90-day pause to allow the Justice Department time to appeal, which it chose not to do.
I'd be fascinated to know how much that cost, and exactly who thought that expenditure was reasonable. Like, with names and faces.