Privacy, Surveillance, and Cybersecurity

Throughout ALA’s 140 year history, librarians have defended vigorously the public’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights against government attempts to obtain patrons’ borrowing (and later internet surfing) records with­out a warrant.  Since its inception 70 years ago, ALA’s Washington-based Office of Government Relations has advocated directly -- and with and through broad coalitions of major public interest groups, bipartisan think tanks, and private sector companies -- to achieve both liberty and security without sacrificing one for the other.  Today, ALA remains fundamentally committed to restoring the Constitutional privacy rights of library users and the civil liberties of all Americans lost to multiple over­broad and inadequately “checked and balanced” statutes, including the: USA PATRIOT Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  ALA is dedicated, in particular, to ending ongoing mass surveillance, which continues despite important reforms made by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015.

2016 Privacy/Surveillance/Cybersecurity Fact Sheet

ALA Key Communications

ECPA:
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Urging the Committee to Pass the Email Privacy Act (H.R.699) Immediately Without Any Amendments that would Weaken the Protections Afforded by the Bill (May 24 2016)
  • Press Release: Library leader calls on Senate to pass privacy reform with “real meaning for real people” as House takes historic ECPA vote (April 27 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to House of Representatives Urging Immediate Passage of the Email Privacy Act (H.R.699) (April 26 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to House Judiciary Committee Expressing Support for the Manager’s Substitute Amendment to the Email Privacy Act (H.R.699) (April 13 2016)
Encryption:
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama Requesting that the White House Oppose Legislation to Undermine Security and Reiterating the Need for a Broad Statement of Support for Encryption (April 11 2016)
  • Press Release: Demand for Apple encryption tool threatens library users’ privacy (February 26 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama urging him to support the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies, to reject policies that would prevent or undermine the use of strong encryption, and to urge other world leaders to do the same (January 11 2016) 
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama opposing mandated “backdoors” in encryption systems (May 19 2015)
FISA:
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee to Rebut a Statement Made to the Committee on May 10 2016 (May 17 2016) 
  • Coalition Letter urging the House Judiciary Committee to change the designation of a classified hearing on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to “Open” (January 27 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) urging him to determine and disclose how many Americans are swept up in NSA surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (January 13 2016) 
  • Coalition Letter to the Director of National Intelligence requesting basic information about how Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) affects Americans and other U.S. residents (October 29 2015)
Whistleblower Protection:
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Expressing Support for the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (FBI WPEA) of 2015 (S.2390) (March 17 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community expressing concern about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) characterization of Whistleblowers as insider threats (January 06 2016) 

CISA:

  • Coalition Letter to House of Representatives urging support for H.R.4350 to repeal the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (January 25 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to Members of Congress Urging Opposition to the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 and its inclusion in the Omnibus funding package (December 17 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama and House and Senate Leadership Urging Opposition to Cybersecurity Conference Legislation (December 07 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to Senators in Opposition to CISA and Supporting the Passage of Leahy Amendment No. 2587 and Franken Amendment No. 2612 (October 23 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to Senators Opposing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Amendment No. 2626 to CISA (October 20 2015)
  • Press Release: ALA president urges senators to join Wyden, Paul and Sanders in opposing CISA (October 14 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to All Senators Urging Support for Lee-Leahy Amendment No. 2556 to CISA (S.754) (August 04 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama Urging Veto Threat for CISA (S.754) (July 27 2015)

Other Privacy/Surveillance Issues:

  • Coalition Letter to the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the National Security Agency Calling for a Halt to NSA Data Sharing with Law Enforcement Agencies (April 7 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to White House Regarding Civil Society Input on Human Rights and Civil Liberties Protections Online (March 8 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requesting public hearings, guidance, and legislation as part of the inquiry into possible NSA interception of communications by Members of Congress (January 14 2016) 
  • Coalition Letter from the Campaign for Reader Privacy to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Urging Her to Reaffirm the Justice Department's Commitment to Limit Searches of Bookstore and Library Records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act (November 10 2015)
  • Amicus Brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to repudiate the third-party doctrine and to reverse a lower court’s ruling in U.S. v. Moalin (November 05 2015)
  • Press Release: FTRF and ALA join amicus brief asserting readers’ First Amendment right to be free of NSA’s online surveillance (September 4 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Leadership Opposing Section 603 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2016 (S.1705) (August 04 2015)
  • Press Release: ALA calls passage of USA FREEDOM Act a “milestone” (June 2 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership in support of USA FREEDOM Act (S.1123; H.R. 2048) (May 6 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to the Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act (S. 2372) (December 16 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to NSA Director Renewing Requests to Establish a Single Point of Contact for Inquiries and Complaints about Potential Human Rights Violations (November 04 2015)
  • Coalition Letter to FCC Petitioning for Repeal of Retention of Telephone Toll Records (August 04 2015)

About OGR

The American Library Association is the nation’s oldest and, at over 55,000 members, the largest organization of library professionals in the nation. As part of the ALA Washington Office, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) is charged with following and influencing legislation, policy and regulatory issues of importance to the library field and the public. In coordination with its sister office, the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), OGR’s mission is to ensure that libraries are consistently, actively and constructively involved in all relevant federal legislative and policy decision-making processes.

Staff Contact Information

Adam Eisgrau
Managing Director
Office of Government Relations
aeisgrau@alawash.org

American Library Association
Washington Office
1615 New Hampshire Ave NW, 1st Floor
Washington, DC 20009-2520
Phone: 202-628-8410
Fax: 202-628-8419       

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