April 20, 2018

ALA’s Hayden to Senate: Respect Privacy

By LJ Staff

American Library Association President Carla Hayden, submitting a statement to a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Nov. 18, “America After 9/11: Freedom Preserved or Freedom Lost?,” reminded the senators about the importance of privacy. “The ALA has long opposed efforts to censure, control, or to oversee the information sought by the public, particularly in libraries. Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association and lack of privacy and confidentiality chills users’ choices, and can have the same effect as the suppression of ideas. The possibility of surveillance, whether direct or through access to records of speech, research and exploration, undermines a democratic society.”

She added, “The American public has clearly conveyed ¾ through the passage, in three states and 210 localities, of resolutions, ordinances or ballot initiatives protecting the civil liberties of their over 26 million residents ¾ its discomfort with some provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. We are, as members of the American public and as librarians, deeply concerned about certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act which increase the likelihood that the activities of library users, including their use of computers to browse the web or access e-mail, may be under government surveillance without their knowledge or consent.” She reminded the committee that ALA supports legislation that would amend the Patriot Act and advocates “meaningful congressional oversight of and accountability to the public for the implementation of these expanded authorities.” Her statement was also endorsed by the American Association of Law Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association.