|Weekly News Digest
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ARL, ALA Issue Statement Supporting PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL; www.arl.org) and the American Library Association (ALA; www.ala.org) have issued a statement saying they strongly support the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 (www.arl.org/bm~doc/house-jud-1pgrpsafinal.pdf). Several provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2009, unless Congress acts to reauthorize them.
On Oct. 20, 2009, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Representatives Jerrold R. Nadler (D-NY) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R.3845). The associations believe that this bill contains necessary and important reforms to the powers created by the USA PATRIOT Act, especially to Section 215, often called the "library provision," and to national security letters (NSLs).
The USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 includes several key reforms that restore important civil liberties without diminishing the government's ability to conduct legitimate national security investigations. Chief among these reforms are the following:
- Prohibition of use of Section 215 orders to obtain personally identifiable information about patrons from libraries or booksellers
- Meaningful judicial review of Section 215 orders, NSLs, and the gag orders that prevent recipients from talking about these orders
- Rational limits on gag orders including limits on their duration once challenged
- Rational limits on the scope of NSLs so that they cannot be used unreasonably to gather information on innocent Americans
- Minimization procedures to insure that information obtained using these powers is destroyed once it is no longer relevant to an ongoing investigation
- Yearly audits of the use of these powers and a new "sunset" that will give Congress an opportunity to consider further reform based on those audits.
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