ALA: USA PATRIOT Act revisions not adequate to ensure reader privacy

Contact: Larra Clark

Media Relations Manager


For Immediate Release

December 9, 2005

ALA: USA PATRIOT Act revisions not adequate to ensure reader privacy

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) The American Library Association (ALA) today announced its opposition to the latest proposal to extend the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The proposal would extend for four years – until 2009 – Section 215 of the Act, which permits secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

"No changes were made to the standards for obtaining these FISA orders, nor for those for obtaining National Security Letters (NSL)," said ALA President Michael Gorman. "The ALA is deeply disappointed that the conference committee made so few changes to the House conference report. We appreciate that the conference report would now sunset Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act in four years (instead of seven years, as in the language circulated before Thanksgiving), but this change is not sufficient to protect the privacy of library users from fishing expeditions by the FBI.

"We call on Senators to vote NO on the cloture vote and NO on the House conference report when it comes to the Senate floor. This conference report was not created in a bipartisan manner, and it does not provide adequate protections for reader privacy. The ALA calls for a higher legal standard for obtaining a FISA warrant or NSL and for the right to a meaningful court challenge of such warrants or NSLs."