Today, as part of The Day We Fight Back, a national demonstration against mass surveillance, the American Library Association is urging library supporters to ask their representatives in Congress to support the USA FREEDOM Act (S.1599 and H.R.3361).
ALA is making this effort because of the library community’s long standing commitment to privacy, starting with the protection of patron library records. Grassroots support from ALA has meant a lot to the reform attempts since passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. Now with public knowledge about the extensive surveillance of telephone records and other revelations, there is an opportunity get some real reforms to the surveillance system. That is why we need our library voices to express the need for ending mass surveillance, bring due process to the FISA court process and rationality to the collection and retention of data about millions of people.
The FREEDOM Act, introduced by Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), seeks to end bulk collection of Americans’ communications information and introduce transparency and oversight for National Security Agency investigations. As ALA explains:
This bicameral piece of legislation is intended to end bulk collection of telephone metadata, prevent bulk collection of Internet metadata, and permit companies to report publicly on the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters they have received and complied with, and the number of users (or accounts) whose information was sought under those orders and letters.
The bill would also require the government itself to make additional disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts. It would also establish a process for declassifying significant opinions issued by the FISA court and create an Office of the Special Advocate charged with arguing for privacy at the FISA Court.
Please ask both your U.S. representative and senators to co-sponsor this important legislation. If your any of your legislators have already co-sponsored, please thank them for bringing more transparency and oversight to these spying programs.