For immediate release | December 18, 2013

ALA supports NSA surveillance reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A drumbeat of organizations are calling for reforms to the National Security Agency's surveillance program. Late this afternoon, President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies released a report calling for transparency, online security tools, and organizational reforms to the NSA. The American Library Association―an organization dedicated to protecting civil liberties including First Amendment and privacy rights―has called for more government transparency and public accountability.

This week, the D.C. District Court judge ruled that the National Security Agency's surveillance practices on millions of unsuspecting Americans may be unconstitutional. In the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found the surveillance practices to be an "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion" of personal data on Americans. In addition to finding that the program violates First and Fourth Amendments guaranteed by the Constitution, Judge Leon also examined the ineffectiveness of the NSA program in preventing terrorism.

"The District Court ruling is the first time that a court or government agency has questioned the constitutionality of the surveillance program since news of the NSA phone collecting program leaked in June," said American Library Association President Barbara Stripling. "While we applaud the Court's ruling that the program is unconstitutional, we know that more work needs to be done. We continue to encourage library advocates to support the USA Freedom Act."

While there are more challenges facing the surveillance reform movement, this is the first time the debate can be enjoined in all branches of government. Today, the American Library Association joined more than 50 businesses, civil liberties and public interest groups in opposing the FISA Improvements Act, a bill that seeks to legalize and extend NSA mass surveillance programs. Opposers to the bill include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, PEN American Center, TechFreedom, and others.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 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.


Jazzy Wright

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office