A snapshot of secret government demands for consumer data, revealed after 11 years

In 2004, an ISP called Calyx Internet Access in New York received a National Security Letter (NSL), a broad government tool for demanding information without judicial approval. In addition to demanding information, the NSL imposed a broad and indefinite gag order on Calyx and its president, Nick Merrill. They remained "John Doe" litigants through years of challenging the NSL and advocating (for instance, in an anonymous op-ed in the Washington Post in 2007) limits on government surveillance.

Now we can finally read what the government asked Calyx for: an attachment to NSL, unsealed this week after 11 years of litigation, shows that the government demanded a wide range of customer information including addresses, screen names, telephone numbers, and what the customer has bought online (the full attachment is here). The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer tells the story of the litigation. Ars Technica's coverage points out that this type of surveillance was no isolated incident — more than 140,000 NSLs were issued between 2003 and 2005, and NSLs continue in use today.

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