WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Library Association is rallying librarians to support the USA Freedom Act, a bill that will improve the balance between terrorism prevention and personal privacy protection. The USA FREEDOM Act, which was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and PATRIOT Act author Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would place restrictions on bulk phone and Internet government surveillance, and permit companies to make public the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters received.
“We waited for more than a decade for privacy reforms of this magnitude,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “The public deserves more transparency and accountability than what we’ve been seeing from the Obama Administration. The library community welcomes this bipartisan effort because it shows us that reasonable privacy expectations are possible."
The bicameral legislation would rewrite section 215 of the Patriot Act—also called the “library provision” because of the library community’s concerns about the PATRIOT Act—and impose new limits on section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill would also require the government to make disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts and establish a process for declassifying opinions issued by the FISA Court.
The American Library Association’s involvement in privacy policies stems from the library principle to protect patron confidentiality. Since details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance policies were released, the Association has developed a civil liberties toolkit that helps libraries educate Americans about their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
The American Library Association is encouraging ALA members, library supporters and privacy advocates to tell their U.S. representatives and senators to cosponsor the Freedom Act. Take the small action to call or email your representative today.