"In a legal memorandum (pdf) filed with the federal court in Washington, EPIC and the American Civil Liberties Union challenge the Justice Department's refusal to disclose basic, statistical information concerning implementation of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act. For background information and copies of DOJ and FBI documents that have been obtained, see EPIC's PATRIOT Act FOIA Litigation page." (from EPIC)
"Patrons of the Boulder Public Library can log onto the institution's Web site and review the names of books they've checked out. It's a useful service, available only to the holder of the library card."
"That is as it should be. No one else needs to know whether your reading habits tend toward Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws" or Madonna's "Sex." And no one should land on a suspected-subversives list because she happens to read books on the synthesis of poisons and the location of waterways."
"As the courts have emphasized, citizens have a First Amendment right to read what they wish without the intimidating oversight of the government. Obviously, that right evaporates during legitimate criminal or terrorist investigations." (from The Daily Camera - Editorials)
"Political courage is usually in short supply, but there was a lot of it on display at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 6."
"Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, and three other members of Congress had the nerve to be the first to call for changes in a law called the USA Patriot Act. They announced the introduction of H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act."
"One of the cornerstones of our democracy is the right of Americans to criticize their government and to read printed materials without fear of government monitoring and intrustion," Sanders said." (from Bookselling This Week)
Two stories on the signs at the Santa Cruz public library.
Anger as CIA Homes in on New Target: Library Users and Librarians try to alter Patriot Act both cover the signs, posted in the 10 county branches last week and on the library's Web site, also inform the reader that the USA Patriot Act "prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you," as well as the USA Patriot Act.
"I'm not reading anything they'd be particularly interested in, but that's not the point," said Ari Avraham of Santa Cruz. "This makes me think of Big Brother."
"Local librarians are looking for ways to continue protecting a patron’s right to privacy in spite of what they say is the federal government’s meddling ways."
"I believe very, very strongly what you read is your own damn business," said Sherm Pridham, executive director of the Portsmouth Library."
"Local librarians are considering posting signs to warn patrons that records of the books they borrow may wind up in the hands of federal agents, a move that is similar to what libraries in Santa Cruz, Calif., have already done. At least one local librarian is also considering erasing library records in order to further protect a citizens’ right to keep what they read private."
"Ignorance breeds fear, and libraries are here to dispel ignorance," said librarian Carolyn Marvin of the William Fogg Library in Eliot, Maine. "It would be a shame to have people afraid to access information that they need in their lives." (from The Portsmouth Herald)
Both progressive liberals and conservatives who
believe in a minimalist federal government are moving
to repeal a section of the USA Patriot Act passed in the
wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that allows federal
agents to pull readers' records for little more than
MA Rep. John W. Olver is backing the Freedom to
Read Protection Act, a bill by Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-
Vt., to end the chance federal agents may be checking
your reading list.
"This bill would return some of the safeguards
that were in place before passage of the Patriot Act by
exempting libraries and booksellers from provisions
that allow the federal government access to records
without a traditional search warrant," Olver said.
"Along with the usual reminders to hold the noise down and pay overdue fines, library patrons in Santa Cruz are seeing a new type of sign these days: a warning that records of the books they borrow may wind up in the hands of federal agents."
"The signs, posted in the 10 county branches last week and on the library's Web site, also inform the reader that the USA Patriot Act "prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you."
"Questions about this policy," patrons are told, "should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530." (from The San Fransisco Chronicle)
"At a press conference held today in Washington, D.C., Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced federal legislation that would remove a threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records, created by the USA Patriot Act. At present, the proposed amendment, called the Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003, has 24 co-sponsors, including Ron Paul (R-TX)."
"Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), hailed the amendment. "While booksellers strongly support efforts to fight terrorism, the Patriot Act gives federal authorities virtually unchecked authority to search our customers' records and raises concern that government is monitoring what people are reading," said Finan. "The Freedom to Read Protection Act will restore faith in the confidentiality of these records without harming national security." (from Bookselling This Week)
Laurie writes "The author of this story takes Mitch Freedman and ALA to task for failing to encourage acts of civil disobedience by librarians when the FBI comes aknockin'.
"While American Library Association President, Mitch Freedman and the ALA have consistently protested these developments, they have stopped far short of using their ethical code as a moral justification for refusing to cooperate with the FBI. While some librarians and some members of the American Library Association have expressed discomfort in assisting the FBI's invasion of our privacy-as yet there is no articulated public voice advocating librarians to undertake acts of civil disobedience when the FBI comes to call."
Read The Article Here, from Counter Punch."
The Associated Press Says The St. Louis Public Library has changed the policy that late last year allowed an FBI agent to walk out of a library branch with patrons' computer sign-up sheets without a court order.
Under the revised policy approved by the library board Feb. 3, such sign-up sheets will be deemed private records and will only be turned over to law enforcers under a court order, spokesman Gerald Brooks said. Brooks said a St. Louis law firm that counsels the board advised board members to make the change.