(WASHINGTON, DC) The following statement is from ALA President Michael Gorman in response to today’s Senate vote on legislation reauthorizing the USA PATRIOT Act.
“Today the Senate voted to pass H.R. 3199, a “compromise” bill to amend the USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization legislation. H.R. 3199 fails to restore essential privacy protections to the millions of people who use America’s libraries. The legislation passed by a vote of 89 to 10, despite the concerted efforts of many Senators and their staffs to protect library patron records from government fishing expeditions.
“Although some have claimed that the compromise language includes new protections for library patrons, those alleged protections are illusory. Section 215 continues to allow the government to secretly search library patron records without proof that the person whose records are being sought has committed a crime or is in contact with a suspected terrorist. The “compromise” language continues to attach a gag provision to Section 215 orders and does not allow Section 215 recipients to meaningfully challenge that gag order in a court of law.
“Librarians’ concerns that the Act provides insufficient privacy protections are shared by millions of Americans. Since the PATRIOT Act passed, more than 400 communities across the country –representing approximately 62 million people—have passed resolutions opposing a few key sections of the PATRIOT Act.
“ALA has worked closely with many senators on both sides of the aisle to amend those sections of the PATRIOT Act that infringe on Americans’ civil liberties. We thank those Senators who have fought so hard to amend the PATRIOT Act, including Russ Feingold (WI), Patrick Leahy (VT), Richard Durbin (IL), John Sununu (NH), Larry Craig (ID), Chuck Hagel (NE), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). We will continue to work with these patriotic, hard-working members of Congress to encourage passage of protections outlined in the SAFE Act."