CHICAGO — At the American Library Associations’s recent Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Philadelphia, the ALA Council passed a resolution calling upon Congress to pass — and the president to sign — legislation supporting the reforms embodied in the USA Freedom Act.
The act, introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), ends bulk collection of U.S. persons’ communications records, requires court orders to collect such communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, creates new and shorter sunset provisions to ensure proper oversight, reforms the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, increases transparency and oversight and limits the types of records obtainable under Section 215 and National Security Letters and the authority by which they are obtained.
In adopting the resolution, the Council reaffirmed the ALA’s commitment to the principles of privacy, open government, governmental transparency and accountability. The ALA has vigorously defended the privacy rights of library users and supported openness, accountability and transparency.
The Council noted that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) operates multiple classified programs to collect, mine, retain and share with third parties data on U.S. persons who are not under investigation for criminal activity. The data collected includes the activities of library users.
The Council also noted that these programs are conducted with minimal oversight and inadequate transparency.
In addition, among recent decisions and study group reports, there is no consensus regarding the constitutionality and statutory basis of these programs.
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.