Nicholas Merrill, formerly the head of a New York-based Internet Service Provider that fought the FBI and DOJ in court over the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and won, plans to launch a new non-profit, crowd-funded ISP that will make its users’ privacy a central focus. “I have a bit of a track record of fighting for the right to privacy on the Internet, and I have a plan to radically transform the way the Telecommunications industry works,” Merrill said. His new company, The Calyx Institute, aims to be a “non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption,” and it intends to sell Internet access for as little as $20 per month as well as mobile phone service.
“The software is already under development by another nonprofit foundation called LEAP who has given Calyx the green light to be the first commercial provider,” Merrill wrote while describing his project. “The money we raise will go towards setting up a datacenter and implementing the first mass market deployment of this new Internet communications platform, and in a second stage, a mobile phone platform.”
The Calyx Institute is seeking $1 million in funding through crowd-funding service Indiegogo for a “bare-bones launch,” or $2 million in funding for a faster launch. “If we don’t reach our funding goal, we will use what we do raise to do as much as we can with whatever we can raise,” the entrepreneur said. “I have a lot of experience running a business on a shoe-string budget, as I started my original ISP with only $10,000 of initial funds.”
The company has raised $28,500 so far, and Merrill’s video detailing the Calyx Institute project follows below.