For immediate release | July 18, 2013

American Library Association joins Apple, Microsoft in demanding transparency around government surveillance

WASHINGTON, D.C—Today, the American Library Association (ALA) joined an unprecedented coalition of Internet companies and advocates to deliver a letter (PDF) to the U.S. government demanding greater transparency around national security-related surveillance of Internet and telephone communications. Key civil liberties organizations and major companies like Apple, Facebook and Twitter joined in the effort with dozens of other companies and organizations, large and small.

Following June revelations of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the letter presses both the Obama administration and Congress to allow Internet and telephone companies to publish general numerical information about the different types of government requests they receive and the number of people affected. The letter further pushes for the government to issue its own “transparency reports” detailing similar information about the scope of its surveillance activities.

“The American Library Association is absolutely committed to increasing government transparency and accountability, particularly in the area of surveillance of Americans,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the ALA. “The essential need to prevent terrorism and protect Americans from harmful acts must not be used as an excuse to infringe on the privacy rights of innocent Americans.”

WeNeedToKnow, the newly launched petition directed at the White House invites the public to contribute to the call for greater transparency around government surveillance.

“Democracy requires accountability and accountability requires transparency. Yet the American people lack basic information about the scope of the government’s surveillance of the Internet, information that many companies would eagerly share with their users if only they weren’t gagged by the government,” said Kevin Bankston, Center for Democracy & Technology Senior Counsel and Director of Free Expression, who organized the joint call-to-action.

A copy of the letter is available at:

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 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

American Library Association

Washington Office