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Posts Tagged ‘PATRIOT Act’

Top Legal Issues for Libraries: Two Webinars

In censorship, law, library profession, privacy, public libraries, school libraries on March 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

Recently, I’ve attended two helpful webinars on hot legal topics in libraries. Thursday’s session by LibraryLaw’s Mary Minow focused on:

  • The hurried extension of the USA PATRIOT Act;
  • Recent court decisions about public meeting space in libraries (no, you cannot bar religious groups), and
  • Legal precedent set by book challenges including a Florida ruling that sidestepped Island Trees v. Pico and established a slippery slope around books containing representational “inaccuracies.” The Supreme Court let the 11th Circuit’s 6-3 decision stand when it declined to hear the case last November. (The book removed was Vamos a Cuba).

Watch the recorded webinar.

The other useful session, held in February, covered “Library Laws for the Mobile Web Environment.”

Week to Watch USA PATRIOT Act

In intellectual freedom, libraries, library associations, privacy on January 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

There’s going to be a lot of movement around the PATRIOT Act in the next week or two. Maybe not the movement we’d like.

Here’s one update from the American Library Association’s recent Midwinter Meeting: “Bad News from Washington on Patriot Act.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is also planning a Lobby Day in Washington for February 3rd. See, Lobby Day to Stop the PATRIOT Act.

If you can’t make it to D.C., you can also sign BORDC’s letter opposing the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, or call your senators and reps using the ALA’s Legislative Action Center.

Congress Rejects PATRIOT Act Re-Write, Improvements Still Possible

In intellectual freedom, public policy on December 7, 2009 at 8:41 am

On Friday the House and Senate both completed their mark ups of PATRIOT Act reauthorization bills. Here’s a quick update from the Center for Democracy and Technology:

Congress Rejects PATRIOT Act Re-Write, but Modest Improvements Still Possible

1)    House and Senate Committees Renew PATRIOT with Mostly Minor Changes
2)    The Risks of National Security Letters
3)    House Bill Offers More Significant Change to NSL Authority
4)    Obama Administration Uses Secret Briefings to Resist Strong Standards for FBI Investigations

Civil Lib Groups Endorse H.R. 3845, American Lib Assoc. Issues Action Alert

In activism, information policy, intellectual freedom on October 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

A coalition of 20 civil liberties organizations, including the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), released a letter today endorsing the USA Patriot Amendments Act (H.R. 3845) and pointing out the failures of the Senate’s PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act (S. 1692). As their names suggest, the Amendments Act proposes reforms to the expiring sections of the USAPA, while the Extension Act pretty much extends the USAPA provisions with very few promising changes. The next review will be in 2013.

CDT compiled this very helpful chart that compares the two bills to the current law. Check out the difference on gag orders (p. 2 and 4) and on Section 215 orders that would capture personal info from a library or bookseller (p. 3). Also note that H.R. 3845 places limits on roving wiretaps, and proposes the “lone wolf” provision be allowed to expire.

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) endorsed the ACLU’s call to action and expressed its support for the House reform bills as well. The ALA alert includes background info and talking points.

H.R. 3845 and 3846 will be “marked up” next Wednesday, Nov. 4. That means now’s the time to contact your reps. Yes, especially if you want to push this debate even further around issues of immigrant rights and profiling. Remember it was during the Senate mark-up period earlier this month that Sens. Feinstein and Leahy abandoned their commitment to curb dragnets against individuals, communities and human rights orgs. Some California Reps., like Dem. Jane Harman, are already supporting this legislation. Can’t hurt to remind her.

What else can you do? Write letters to the editor. Get FISA Right posted some templates to get you started.

View full Center for Democracy & Technology post.

House Judiciary Session Scheduled

In activism, information policy, privacy, public policy on October 28, 2009 at 8:12 am

The House Judiciary Committee is expected for a classified hearing on Patriot Act issues and proposed surveillance reforms on Thursday October 29 at 2:30pm EST. There are several ways to stay up-to-date and participate in the public discussion. But, most importantly, contact your state reps right now and consider writing an editorial in your local papers.

1. Contact your representatives now using the new action forum posted by the ACLU. The action text, thankfully, draws attention to some of the oversights in the current reform legislation, calling on representatives to continue pushing for stronger public protections and repeal of expanded FBI powers. In particular we need to continue demanding changes to Section 505 as well as the slippery definition of “material support” which leaves social justice and human rights organizations vulnerable to targeting and criminal prosecution. Add your own two cents now.

2.Write an op-ed or letter to the editor. I haven’t done a Nexis search to confirm this, but Get FISA Right posted on Tuesday that media coverage of the surveillance reform bills H.R. 3845 and H.R. 3846 has been slim to nonexistent. Here they provide Letter to the Editor templates you can use to raise these issues in your local papers.

3. Participate in today’s live discussion at the Patriot Act Action Hub.

Read more:

From today’s Huffington Post: Sen. Wyden warns Congress to abandon hasty fear-based policymaking.

From Irregular Times: A round up of information on the reform legislation being considered, H.R. 3845 and 3846.

See also, my prior posts on the California Library Association’s Patriot Act resolution (make your own!) and the need for deeper coalition building on these issues (includes more recommended resources).

H. Resolutions Bring PATRIOT Reforms Back Into Focus

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy, Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 7:05 am

Tuesday, the House Representatives proposed new legislation to keep the focus on needed changes/repeals to the USA PATRIOT Act by the end of 2009. Track the Patriot Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3845) and the FISA Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3846) on GovTrack, also includes the full text of the bills and list of cosponsors.

These bills were introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA).

Additional analysis of the Senate Judiciary PATRIOT Act extension bill were covered in a prior post, and numerous background sources on the law (treatises, advocacy orgs, articles) are covered in my USAPA 2009 Resource Guide.

Calif. Library Association Asks Congress to Do What Judiciary Did Not

In intellectual freedom, libraries, library associations, privacy, public policy on October 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

October 13, 2009 • SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Library Association (CLA) has just announced a resolution calling on Congress to dramatically revise the up-for-renewal USA PATRIOT Act, passed hurriedly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks.

Librarians have been front-line opponents of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act since its passage. The Act has made it possible, under Section 215, for the FBI to request and obtain library records for large numbers of individuals without reason to believe they are involved in illegal activity. This jeopardizes the basic ethics of the library profession, expressed in the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association.

Expanding on the American Library Association’s PATRIOT Act resolution last July, the CLA resolution goes further to address imminent First and Fourth Amendment concerns with Section 505. This provision grants the FBI broad authority to sidestep constitutional safeguards though use of National Security Letters to obtain information.

CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, Mary Minow, a leading expert on library law, said, “It’s past time for the blatantly unconstitutional aspects of this legislation to be removed from the books, and now is the opportunity for Congress to act.”

Two sections of the PATRIOT Act are currently up for reauthorization, with sunsets at the end of December 2009, and librarians across the country see this as an opportunity to correct those provisions that attack basic civil liberties. CLA’s resolution calls for Congress to allow Section 215 to sunset, to amend Section 505 to “include a clear exemption for library records,” and in general to intensify Congressional oversight of the use of the Act.
* CLA Resolution on 2009 Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act (PDF, 481k)

For more information, please contact:

Mary Minow, Chair,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee
408-366-0123

Amy Sonnie, Member,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee,
415-823-0497

or cla_ifc  [a t]  earthlink [dot]  net

Feinstein, Judiciary Say We Deserve Even Fewer Rights

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy, Uncategorized on October 9, 2009 at 5:23 am

Unfortunate news. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary voted to extend expiring PATRIOT Act sections for another four years. The vote was 11-8 with California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as expected, among the majority in favor of prolonging the FBI’s expanded powers. I have it on good authority that Feinstein does not want to be “hounded by librarians.” This is second-hand, but let’s consider that a compliment!

The issue is now on to the Senate floor, making public and organizational pressure even more important. Let’s increase the hounding!

Judiciary Panel Approves Patriot Act Sections

New York Times, The Caucus, by Charlie Savage

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation to reauthorize three sections of the so-called Patriot Act that are set to expire at the end of the year, after largely rejecting a series of proposed changes to surveillance laws sought by civil liberties and privacy advocates.

By a vote of 11 to 8, the committee sent the legislation on to the Senate floor. The bill would extend provisions that expanded the power of the F.B.I. to seize records and to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails in the course of counterterrorism investigations. [continue reading]

Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms

Electronic Frontier Foundation, Deeplinks

…the Committee this morning voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections left in the bill after it was already watered down at last Thursday’s Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama Administration. [read full article]

Leahy, Feinstein About-Face on Civil Liberties

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy, Uncategorized on October 7, 2009 at 7:13 am

Update: “Lawmakers Cave to FBI in Patriot Act Debate” in Wired.com.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee chairman, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) introduced last-minute changes (.pdf) that would strip away some of the privacy protections Leahy had espoused just the week before. The Vermont Democrat said his own, original proposal of last week could jeopardize ongoing terror investigations.

… The Leahy-Feinstein amendment, which is likely to be adopted by the committee and sent to the full Senate next week, does not require the government show a connection between the items sought under a Section 215 warrant and a suspected terrorist or spy.

Read the full article.

The PATRIOT Act in 2009: A Resource Guide

In privacy, public policy, subject guides, Uncategorized on September 23, 2009 at 11:35 am

Since the passage of the original PATRIOT Act in 2001 and its revision in 2006, much national debate has centered on the legislation’s threat to privacy, intellectual freedom, and implicit sanction of pervasive racial profiling. As important sections of the PATRIOT Act are scheduled to sunset in December 2009, there is renewed opportunity to challenge unjust government spying on our communities. This guide offers resources to help civic and community leaders find both background and up-to-date information on the reauthorization debate.

What’s included in the guide:

HISTORY & BACKGROUND

  • The PATRIOT Act Itself
  • Treatises on the Law
  • Helpful Articles
  • Oversight & Watchdog Reports
  • Prior Cases

STAYING CURRENT

  • Pending Bills to Reform
  • Outstanding Cases
  • Useful Websites for Staying Current

Download the 2009 Patriot Act Resource Guide (PDF)
Last updated September 18, 2009 by A. Sonnie

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