Privacy, Surveillance, and Cybersecurity

ALA advocates with coalitions of major public interest groups, bipartisan think tanks, and private sector companies to uphold the Constitutional privacy rights of library users.

2017 Privacy/Surveillance/Cybersecurity Fact Sheet

ALA Key Communications

  • Coalition Letter to Senators in Opposition to the Expansion of the National Security Letter (NSL) Statute to Include Electronic Communication Transactional Records (ECTRs) (June 6 2016)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Coalition Letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence opposing the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (November 30, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter in opposition to the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (November 6, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter urging the House Judiciary Committee to close the "backdoor search loophole" in Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (November 6, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate re: USA RIGHTS Act (October 24, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence re: opening markup on draft legislation to reauthorize Section 702
  • Coalition Letter to House Judiciary Committee re: stregthening 702 reform bill (October 13, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to House Re: FISA Section 702 Reauthorization (September 7, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Re: FISA Section 702 Reauthorization (September 7, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Director of National Intelligence opposing mass email scan order reportedly issued to Yahoo! (October 25, 2016
  • 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 House Conferees Urging them to Maintain the Integrity of Specific Military Whistleblower Provisions in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4909; S.2943) (July 14 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to House and Senate Committees on Armed Forces Urging them to Maintain the Integrity of Specific Military Whistleblower Provisions in the Conference Process for the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909; S. 2943) (June 23 2016)
  • 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) 


  • 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:

  • Comment to the State Department re: proposed Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants (May 19, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to House Judiciary Committee re: the USA LIBERTY Act (October 31, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy and Office of Management and Budget re: “Release to One, Release to All” (October 31, 2017)
  • Comments submitted to Department of Homeland Security re: the Privacy Act of 1974 (October 17, 2017)
  • Coalition Comments on the Department of State’s proposal to collect additional information from visa  applicants (October 2, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Chairman and Ranking Member of House Judiciary Committee urging support of H.R. 387, the Email Privacy Act, to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of (January 30, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leadership on eve of confirmation hearings for attorney general-nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions urging the Committee to closely question the nominee regarding his stance on a range of privacy-related issues and note his past opposition to particular protection for library patron records.(January 9, 2017)
  • Coalition Letter to Senator Grassley and Senator Burr Requesting Open Hearings on the FBI's Request to Expand its Ability to Demand Additional Electronic Communications Transactional Records (ECTRs) (July 11 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) Urging Them to Vote Down Dangerous Model Employee and Student Privacy Legislation, the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act (ESOPPA) (July 6 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to President Obama Requesting that He Act Quickly to Nominate Someone with a Strong Background in Privacy and Civil Liberties to Fill the Position of Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) Chair (July 6 2016)
  • Comments from Open the Government to U.S. Department of Justice Opposing the FBI's Proposal to Exempt its Biometrics Database – the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system – from Certain Provisions of the Privacy Act (CPCLO Order No. 003-2016 and No. 002-2016) (July 6, 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to Senators Opposing a Provision of the FY2017 Intelligence Authorization Act (S.3017) that would Bar the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) from Considering the Privacy and Civil Liberties Interests of Anyone but Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. (June 24, 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to Relevant Congressional Committee Leaders re: Enhanced Oversight of FBI “Next Generation Identification” (facial recognition) Program (June 23, 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to House and Senate Leadership in Opposition to the Proposed Changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (June 21, 2016)
  • Coalition Petition to U.S. Department of Education to Amend 34 C.F.R. Part 99 (“Family Educational Rights and Privacy”) to Establish a Data Security Rule (June 6 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to Senators in Opposition to the Botnet Prevention Act of 2016 (S.2931), both as a standalone bill and an amendment to S. 356 (June 1, 2016)
  • Coalition Letter to U.S. Department of Justice Requesting a 30-day Extension to Submit Comments Regarding the Proposal to Exempt the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System from Key Provisions of the Privacy Act (May 27, 2016)
  • 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 (Nov. 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 (Nov. 5, 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, 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

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