Contact: Emily Sheketoff
June 28, 2004
For Immediate Release
ALA to launch USA PATRIOT study
(ORLANDO) The American Library Association (ALA) announced during its 2004 Annual Conference in Orlando (June 24 to 30) that it is seeking funding to conduct this fall an in-depth, longitudinal study of Law Enforcement Access to Library Records and Technology. The study seeks to make clear the extent to which a variety of law enforcement tools are used to gather data on individuals through their interaction with public and academic libraries in the wake of the USA PATRIOT Act.
“This information will be crucial for the U.S. Congress when they begin debate on amending and/or expanding the PATRIOT Act,” said Emily Sheketoff, ALA Washington Office executive director. “The study should indicate any potential problems caused by law enforcement accessing previously protected reading records and Web sites. We also hope to segue into a more long-term, broad understanding of the impact of weakened privacy protections on the attitudes and actions of people who use libraries and the services that libraries provide.”
ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy already has begun this endeavor by convening a panel of legal and academic experts to serve as an informal advisory board for the duration of the project. The advisory panel will help ensure that the planned research project is achievable, productive and that it balances the needs of the library community to protect patron privacy with the needs of law enforcement to investigate and prevent crime.
To make a donation to fund the implementation of the USA PATRIOT study, please mail your check, payable to ALA, to ALA Development Office, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611, and earmark your tax-deductible contribution for "E-SPY." Or, you can make an online credit card contribution by visiting: https://cs.ala.org/onlinegift/. If you have questions, please contact Lainie Castle in the ALA Development Office (312.280.5050) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The USA PATRIOT Act expands the federal government's authority to investigate American citizens. The Act allows FBI agents to obtain court orders and administrative subpoenas that allow them to examine library patrons’ circulation records and Internet use records. Some court orders even allow agents to monitor email and chat room activities without probable cause.
For more information on the USA PATRIOT Act and the ALA, please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/mediarelations/patriotactmedia.htm.