During ‘Cybersecurity Week’ in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, the American Library Association announced its support for the “Amash/Labrador/Nadler/Paul/Polis Amendment” to H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA). The ALA asked Congress to amend H.R. 3523 and move it toward a proper balance between our nation’s privacy laws and the need to fight cybersecurity threats. CISPA trumps all current privacy laws including the forty-eight state library record confidentiality laws as well as the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Wiretap Act, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The Amash amendment sought to protect library patron records and other personally identifiable information from wholesale sharing among private companies, ISP providers and the government. The amendment passed 415 to 0, although the bill did not include other proposed amendments that the ALA supported. The Amash Amendment was the type of amendment essential to address the serious problems in H.R. 3523 and the library community remained disappointed in the outcome of the final bill.
ALA President Molly Raphael joined many organizations, including the American Society of News Editors, American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Media and Democracy, in opposition to the cybersecurity bill by signing a coalition letter. ALA had urged Congress to accept the Amash Amendment and to seek other improvements to the bill.
“Cybersecurity is a serious, legitimate concern for our nation as well as for libraries, library patrons and the public at large. But CISPA would establish a whole new system for our nation’s privacy laws and policies by permitting the sharing of extraordinary amounts of personal information and electronic communications with little oversight and overly broad definitions of cybersecurity,” Raphael said. “The House of Representatives did not heed the ALA’s call and the future of CISPA lies in the Senate’s and the White House’s hands. We hope that the Senate will do better,” she added.
Press Officer, ALA, Washington Office