Three controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, including Section 215, the “library provision,” are scheduled to expire on February 28, 2011, unless Congress votes to extend or amend the provisions before that date. The looming deadline has sparked several legislative initiatives, including one initiative, S. 290, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), that would provide greater privacy protections for library and bookstore records that contain information about readers’ First Amendment-protected activities.
Other Congressional representatives are seeking to extend Section 215 and other PATRIOT Act provisions without any amendments to protect readers’ privacy. Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Walter B. Jones (R-NC), in hopes of restoring the safeguards for bookstore and library records that were eliminated by the Patriot Act, have introduced an amendment to pending legislation that will prohibit the use of the Patriot Act to search “library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, and book customer lists.”
The Office for Intellectual Freedom and ALA’s Washington Office have joined with the Campaign for Reader Privacy, which represents booksellers, librarians, publishers and authors, to urge all readers, librarians and library supporters to immediately call their members of Congress to urge support for the Conyers amendment to FY2011 Continuing Resolution.
Immediate action is needed, as the vote on this amendment is currently scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 17.
To communicate with your Congressional representative, call the U.S House of Representatives at (202) 224-3121 or use CAPWIZ to email your representative. Full details on the Conyers Amendment can be found on the Washington Office’s District Dispatch blog.
The full Campaign for Reader Privacy Statement can be read online: “House To Vote on Reader Privacy Amendment”