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Weekly News Digest

September 2, 2003 — 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 ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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ALA and Others Request Public Input on Homeland Security Procedures

On Aug. 26, 2003, 75 organizations representing librarians, journalists, scientists, environmental groups, privacy advocates, and others, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge calling on the Department of Homeland Security to allow public input on procedures for safeguarding and sharing information between firefighters, police officers, public health researchers, and federal, state, and local governments. The letter, which is posted on the American Library Association (ALA) site, requests that the department provide the public with a period of sufficient length (i.e., 90 days) to review and comment upon a draft version of the procedures before they are finalized.

The letter expresses concern that the procedures may cut a broad swath of information out of the public domain—including such items as maps of environmental contamination—that is not classified but which may be perceived as "helpful to a terrorist or potentially helpful in responding to or preventing an unknown future attack." The signatories are also concerned that the procedures would subject millions of persons inside and outside of government to non-disclosure agreements and impose criminal penalties for disclosing information improperly.

Besides ALA, some other organizations signing the letter include: American Association of Law Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Society of Professional Journalists, Common Cause, AFL-CIO, OMB Watch, Federation of American Scientists, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Source: American Library Association

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