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From the Los Angeles Times via Common Dreams:
Few who voted for the Patriot Act -- I did not -- knew that among its provisions was one that gave FBI agents the authority to engage in fishing expeditions to see what Americans read. Although it does not mention bookstores or libraries specifically, the sweeping legislation gives the FBI the power to seize all of the circulation, purchasing and other records of library users and bookstore customers on no stronger a claim than an FBI official's statement that they are part of a terrorism investigation. Surely the powers the government needs to fight terrorism can be subject to more meaningful checks and balances than that, especially when the right to read without government intrusion is at stake.
Laurie writes "Michele Orecklin writes in Time Magazine: What makes librarians raise their voices above a whisper? Certain passages of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Librarians are among the most vocal opponents of the law, taking particular exception to Section 215, which they claim makes it easier for the government to search library records. "A big part of the public library system was to sustain democracy so people could make up their own mind about things," says Carolyn Anthony, director of the Skokie Public Library near Chicago. "Aspects of the act compromise this."
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has produced a document for their members to sign. The way it reads, they must\'ve been cheating off of some ALA documents.
...WHEREAS, bookstores are vital institutions for promoting unfettered access to information and ideas for individuals and communities;
WHEREAS, the PNBA holds that suppression of ideas undermines a democratic society and that surveillance and intimidation are agents for censorship; and
WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association; and, in a bookstore, the subject of customers\' interests should not be examined or scrutinized by others...
Read the entire resolution.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer says the library board announced yesterday that it would print and distribute bookmarks warning borrowers about the law that allows federal investigators to demand the names of patrons and the lists of books they read.
Also, they have a bit more on The PATRIOT Act Here, and another story Here.
SomeOne noticed Librarians writing their own chapter on guarding rights, editorial in today's San Jose Mercury News.
It says librarians are firmly defending civil rights -- particularly, patrons' right to privacy. and if we didn't believe so unequivocally in universal access to information, they'd likely block the door when FBI agents and others seek to snoop upon patrons.
This Article by Elaine Cassel over at City Pages takes a look at the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the USA Patriot Act of 2001, and how the war on terror has gone too far.
She says Ashcroft, Bush, and numerous federal courts have decreed that freedoms must be curtailed in the name of fighting terror. But that formulation suggests they will be temporary. Given the nature of terrorism, and of politics, that is extremely unlikely.
"A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Barry Sanders, I-Vt., last month to exempt libraries and booksellers from the provisions of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The bill has "about 70 co-sponsors, including a half-dozen Republicans," Sanders' chief of staff, Jeff Weaver said.
Under the bill, called the Freedom to Read Protection Act, bookstore and library records could still be sought by law enforcement, but only with evidence of probable cause."
The King County Journal Says If requested, King County libraries will abide with a law that gives federal law enforcement agencies the right to look at library records, including what books people have checked out.
But it won't be easy, said Bill Ptacek, director of the King County Library System. The libraries' automated computer system purges records about 24 hours after an item is returned, leaving no record of what book a patron borrowed, unless there's a late fee, Ptacek said.
"A visit to the library hardly seems like an act that would get you in trouble, but some librarians are warning patrons that they could be putting themselves at risk by what they read."
"At public libraries in Skokie, Ill., and Killington, Vt., for example, there are signs warning that the government could demand access to patrons' reading records and the library could not refuse.
At other libraries, such as in Santa Cruz, Calif., and Spokane, Wash., records of who checked out what books are being purged from computers as soon as books are returned, so if federal agents ask for information, there will simply be none to give." (from ABC News)