Contact: Jenni Terry
Press Officer, ALA Washington Office
Washington, D.C. – The USA Patriot Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3845) and the FISA Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3846), introduced into the House of Representatives Tuesday, would together systematically reform our national surveillance laws.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee failed to pass a bill that would restore the balance between protecting civil liberties and ensuring law enforcement has the tools it needs to fight terrorism, but leaders in the House have boldly stepped up to reopen the public debate on these challenging issues and address the need for reform,” American Library Association (ALA) President Camila Alire said.
H.R. 3845 and H.R. 3846 were introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA).
H.R. 3845 calls for reform to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, often referred to as the library provision, by improving the standard for issuing a Section 215 order, providing recipients of Section 215 orders with the ability to immediately challenge both the underlying order and any gag order associated with it, and prohibiting a request for Section 215 records to a library or bookseller for documentary materials that contain personally identifiable information concerning a patron.
This bill would also make needed reforms to national security letter (NSL) policy by ensuring that the FBI can obtain basic information without a court order while also adding reasonable safeguards, improving the issuance standard for NSLs, and authorizing meaningful, constitutionally sound judicial review of NSLs and associated gag orders.
“Libraries have been on the receiving end of both Section 215 orders and NSLs, and we know reform is needed to these broad, sweeping policies in order to prevent the abuse of these tools and to protect innocent Americans from the unwarranted surveillance, collection and retention of their personal information,” Alire said.