For immediate release | January 17, 2014

American Library Association president responds to Obama surveillance speech

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association (ALA), released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s remarks on the National Security Agency surveillance program:

“After months of calling for more government transparency and public accountability, ALA is encouraged that President Obama recognized the need to reform the National Security Agency’s intrusive surveillance practices. The American Library Association agrees that the systematic and unwarranted collection of surveillance data on millions of unsuspecting Americans must be curtailed, and we support plans to make National Security Letters more transparent. Additionally, we firmly support the creation of a constitutional advocate who will represent privacy concerns before the secret intelligence court.

“However, we are cautiously monitoring the Obama Administration to ensure that President Obama’s suggested surveillance changes extend far beyond his speech today. Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for legislative reforms that restore our basic expectations of privacy. We support policy changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the PATRIOT Act, bills that will be considered for reauthorization in 2015. Additionally, the library community fully supports the passage of the USA Freedom Act (H.R.3361), a bill that will improve the balance between terrorism prevention and personal privacy protection.

“Every year, millions of Americans turn to libraries for books, resources and online content. These patrons have a right to read and access information, free from government intrusion or censorship. Since passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, libraries have advocated that any surveillance policy must uphold the First and Fourth Amendment rights of innocent Americans. By actively seeking reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, libraries were one of the first groups to publicly oppose the surveillance bill and bring attention to the impact the law could have on American civil liberties.”


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

Washington Office