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America Library association Tackles NSA Reform

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 The American Library Association(ALA) is tackling  NSA reform, due to concerns that the agency’s meta-data collection will infringe on the freedom to read and conduct research.

Alan Inouye, director of the Office for Information Technology Policy at ALA, told The Hill “Libraries are all about meta-data,” As a library user, “you need to have some freedom to learn about what you think is important without worrying about whether it ends up in some FBI file. We’re talking about the information patterns of people. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.”

 Since the passing of the Patriot Act (pdf) in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks America’s libraries have been vulnerable to government intrusion.  The law’s controversial Section 215, which allows the government to access business records, can be used to compel libraries to release data pertaining to research done by library users.

In January 2002, ALA released a resolution regarding the law’s infringement on the rights of library users.

Edward Snowden’s release of the secret NSA documents this year has shown that, during the decade since the ALA passed its privacy resolution, the government has greatly expanded its reach and its efforts to sweep up huge amounts of information on citizens around the globe, including Americans.

Lynne Bradley, director of ALA’s Office of Government Relations, characterized the NSA’s spying as having “almost ravenous hunger” for collecting information.

ALA is supporting legislation introduced by Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wisconsin) that would curb the NSA’s domestic spying. It also would prevent the government from placing gag orders on libraries that receive NSA surveillance requests. 

 Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wisconsin)was also the original sponsor of the PATRIOT Act. The Wisconsin lawmaker has previously said that the PATRIOT Act was “deliberately drafted to prevent [the] data mining” yet the NSA interpreted his legislation to justify their dragnet style surveillance of American citizens. 

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