Protecting your library from a privacy lawsuit

Anonymous Patron writes "One From LLRX:Could your library be sued for turning over an Internet user's sign-up information to law enforcement? What if you only did so pursuant to a search warrant? Here is a cautionary tale about an Internet service provider, AOL, that turned over subscriber information to local police in response to a search warrant. The subscriber is now suing AOL, and he just might win. It turns out that AOL apparently did not closely examine the search warrant, which was invalid..."


AOL has long cooperated with law enforcement as has eBay. How much of this cooperation is contrary to ECPA I wonder.

Notwithstanding one's opinion of the USA PATRIOT Act or similar laws that allow acces to patron records, the advice prevented in the article should certainly be taken to heart by librarians, and ISPs for that matter.

My law degree is from Ireland not the US, and the Irish Data Protection Act is quite strict. I think that the procedures for obtaining a warrant are similar in that they require a probable cause affidavit and must of course be signed by the Court.

The best advice I have ever heard is:
Admit nothing
Deny everything
Ask for a solicitor(lawyer)

I would leave a great deal to be desired if I practiced law, thank goodness it is only an LLB not 3+ years of grad school in Ireland.

RE: Could your library be sued for turning over an Internet user's sign-up information to law enforcement?This is determined by your state's library privacy statue. Most statues were written years before libraries started providing Net access to patrons so you seldom see references to the "Internet" in the law (Ohio is an exception). In Wis we got an AG's opinion that our statue that refers to the protection of patrons when using "library services" covers the Internet and Net sign-up sheets.Bob Bocher, Technology ConsultantWI State Library608-266-2127 [email protected]

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