My name is Nicholas Merrill and I was the plaintiff in a legal case in the US court system where I challenged the FBI’s policy of using a feature of the so-called USA PATRIOT act - what are called “National Security Letters” - to bypass the American Constitution's system of checks and balances and in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights - in order to obtain protected personal information and to unmask anonymous Internet users. I spent over 6 years not able to speak to anyone (other than my lawyers) about my case - forced to lie to those closest to me due to an FBI gag order that carried a possible 10 year prison sentence for violating it. However the lawsuit resulted in the establishment of two key legal precedents and made changes that affect every Internet worker and Telephone worker in America. I would like to speak to the 27C3 audience in order to tell about my experience and to challenge (and offer my support and assistance to) those individuals who are in a position to challenge government surveillance requests to follow their consciences and do so.
People who work at Internet Service Providers and Telephone companies as well as IT workers at Universities and private businesses are increasingly likely to encounter government attempts at surveillance. I would like to speak to the CCC regarding my experiences in resisting a National Security Letter and also a “Grand Jury Subpoena” as well as my experience of being gagged by the FBI for nearly 7 years - unable to speak on the subject or identify myself as the plaintiff in the NSL lawsuit.