ALA Council resolution calls for restoration of civil liberties and opposes mass surveillance

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/02/2016


JoAnne Kempf

Director, Office of ALA Governance

Office of ALA Governance

CHICAGO – At the 2016 Midwinter Meeting in Boston, the ALA Council passed a resolution calling for the restoration of civil liberties and opposing mass surveillance.

Over the past 14 years, ALA Council has passed numerous resolutions addressing privacy and government transparency, including the USA PATRIOT Act, National Security Letters, Executive Order 12333, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the USA FREEDOM Act.  This latest resolution affirms ALA’s defense of privacy rights and support of government transparency and accountability and urges the President and Congress to amend all germane surveillance-enabling authorities to:

  1. Require government agencies to obtain judicial warrants before collecting any individual’s personal information from third parties and require court approval for National Security Letters;
  2. Raise the standard for government collection of all records under FISA from “reasonable grounds” to “probable cause” and sunset Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (commonly known as the “library records” section);
  3. Limit the government’s ability to use information gathered under intelligence authorities in unrelated criminal cases, thereby making it easier to challenge the use of illegally obtained surveillance information in criminal proceedings; and
  4. Prohibit the government from requiring hardware and software companies to deliberately design encryption and other security features to facilitate government access to information otherwise protected by such features.

The ALA further recommits itself to leadership in the fight for restoration of the public’s privacy and civil liberties through statutory and other legal reforms, and commends and thanks all parties, both inside and outside of government, involved in developing and securing passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, resulting in movement away from overbroad surveillance laws and practices for the first time in more than a decade.

The full text of this resolution can be found on the ALA website.