November 22, 2017

FTRF, Other Groups, Sue to Reveal Patriot Act Subpoenas

By LJ Staff

The Freedom to Read Foundation, the American Library Association’s sibling
organization, along with three other groups, filed a lawsuit October 24 under
the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to learn how many subpoenas have been
issued to libraries, bookstores, and newspapers under the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
The Justice Department had not replied to an FOIA request for the information
that was filed in August by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free
Expression (ABFFE), the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic
Privacy Information Center. Those groups, along with the FTRF, filed the suit in
U.S. District Court in Washington. “Revealing how many subpoenas have been
issued will not threaten national security. It will tell us how often the
Justice Department is using the very broad power it received in the Patriot Act
to monitor First Amendment-protected activity,” said ABFFE President Chris
Finan.

The FOIA authorizes the filing of lawsuits when government authorities
refused to release information or fail to take action on requests for
information. The House Judiciary Committee in June asked for this information,
but was rebuffed, though recent news reports indicate that the Justice
Department has supplied the committee with classified summaries of the
information it was seeking.

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