Founder of The Calyx Institute Nicholas Merrill's keynotes focus on advocating for Internet privacy. Believing that individuals have the right to keep their lives private, regardless of whether they have something to hide or not, is something he fights for firmly, even if it means challenging the USA Patriot Act.
In a popular case that started in February 2004, Doe vs Ashcroft, Nicholas Merrill challenged the FBI's National Security Letter that was sent to him demanding the release of personal online information of certain individuals the bureau was interested in. Unwilling to release the requested information, the founder initiated the famous lawsuit where he could only be known as John Doe for almost a decade. Due to the sensitivity of the situation, Nicholas Merrill was not permitted to speak to family or friends regarding his ongoing trial, which ultimately prevented him from receiving the American Civil Liberties Union as well as the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty for his courageous efforts. His identity was soon questioned by many around him as subsequent lawsuits arose and, after almost a decade of court appearances, the letter was deemed unconstitutional.
Nicholas Merrill's speeches reveal the courage and bravery it took to fight against a government, despite the fact that he may have to face severe consequences for his perceived audacity.