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Weekly News Digest

April 13, 2009 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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ALA and Book Groups Push for PATRIOT Act Revision

Organizations representing booksellers, librarians, publishers, and writers have launched the latest phase in their 5-year campaign to restore the reader privacy safeguards that they say were stripped away by the USA PATRIOT Act. The Campaign for Reader Privacy (www.readerprivacy.org), which includes the American Library Association (ALA), American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, has sent a memo (www.readerprivacy.org/news.jsp?id=33) asking Congress to exempt library and bookstore records from the provisions of Section 215 of the act, which is scheduled to be renewed this year.

Since 2003, the Department of Justice has used its expanded power under the PATRIOT Act to issue more than 200 secret search orders under Section 215 and more than 190,000 National Security Letters (NSLs). Despite several efforts to reform the PATRIOT Act, the FBI can still search any records it believes are "relevant" to a terrorism investigation, including the records of people who are not suspected of criminal conduct. Because PATRIOT Act orders bar recipients from revealing their existence, it is impossible to know how many have been served on bookstores and libraries. However, the Campaign for Reader Privacy says there have been at least three significant and disturbing attempts to obtain records from libraries since 2003.

The Campaign for Reader Privacy does not oppose the extension of Section 215, per se, but seeks to exempt bookstore and library records from its provisions. Without Section 215, the government would be required to seek a grand jury subpoena for such records.

The Campaign also supports legislation that would restrict the use of Section 215 orders and NSLs to searches targeting suspected terrorists or people who are known to them. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced this legislation in the previous Congress. Nadler reintroduced the National Security Letters Reform Act (H.R. 1800) on March 31, and Feingold is expected to introduce a bill later.

Source: Campaign for Reader Privacy



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