librelist archives

« back to archive

An Open Letter to The Calyx Institute

An Open Letter to The Calyx Institute

Tom Ritter
2011-10-29 @ 19:54
I've written an open letter to The Calyx Institute, cosigned by
torservers and  The canonical version is here:

The Calyx Institute was founded by Nick Merril. Nick "who mounted a
high-profile court challenge to a secret FBI records demand, has
finally been partially released from a 6-year-old gag order that
forced him to keep his role in the case a secret from even his closest
friends and family. He can now identify himself and discuss the case,
although he still can’t reveal what information the FBI sought."

You can read more here about Nick and what prompted him to found the

The Institute itself is in the process of being established:

The letter:
Calyx Institute, Nick, et al

I can't express how impressed and inspired I was by Nick's prolonged
legal battle. His willingness to stay the course, challenge the system
meaningfully, and effect change is an inspiration to anyone who
considers themselves a free speech advocate.

I want to make The Calyx Institute aware of a severe deficiency
online, and hope to inspire you to do what you can about it. There are
a number of individuals, nonprofits, and organizations that have run
free-speech programs and services for years. But this has always been
done ad-hoc, often resulting in problems and headaches. Services like
Tor and remailers do generate legitimate abuse complaints. But these
abuse complaints are often automated and ultimately do not stand up to
the safe harbor provisions as a common carrier.

But that doesn't mean that Tor operators aren't forced to bounce
hosting providers often. There doesn't seem to be any meaningful way
for people to host these services without worrying at night about
whether it will be there in the morning [1]. I won't confess to
completely understanding the landscape of ISPs, ARIN, peering, and
abuse contacts - but I do know there seems to be no way as an
individual or even non-profit to find a reasonably priced host that
supports free speech. I'm not looking for a host that turns a blind
eye towards illegal activity, just one that understands that abuse
notifications sent to a common carrier often have no teeth, and will
pass them along to be dealt with by the individuals running the

I think the Calyx Institute, having been founded by someone who does
understand the landscape, is uniquely situated in this area. It's not
so much a matter of providing advice, as for years we've all talked to
hosting providers until we're blue in the face - and still we got
dropped by our providers. I hope Calyx Institute can grow to actually
provide or partner with someone to provide the service, uplink, IP
addresses, or whatever is needed to let individuals and organizations
host our legal free-speech services. And give us the peace of mind to
fight our own battles against corporations and the government -
without also fighting our hosting provider.


[1] You can browse the torservers mailing list archives for some
insight into the problems.