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August 31, 2005

FBI Used PATRIOT Act's Administrative Subpoena to Get Library Records in Connecticut

Yesterday the ACLU revealed that the FBI has used Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act to obtain electronic library records at an institution in Connecticut whose identity cannot be disclosed because of constraints imposed by the PATRIOT Act. This is the further evidence that the FBI is indeed using provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act to obtain library patron reading records, an activity the American Library Association (ALA) has fought since the passage of the legislation in 2001. ALA has argued that Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act gives the FBI overly broad authority to use a National Security Letter (NSL), an administrative subpoena which requires no judicial oversight, to secretly obtain the electronic library records of any person - whether or not that person is suspected of a crime - without any standard for protecting individual privacy. Records searched could include all the websites visited and all the e-mail sent and received by anyone who used the library's computers. Such open-ended fishing expeditions expose all library users to the search and seizure of their records and to the invasion of their privacy. A gag order accompanies the NSL that prevents its recipient from disclosing that a demand for records has been received. ALA Washington Office Newsline 8/26/05

Posted by P. Kaufman at August 31, 2005 10:37 AM