Librarians won’t stay quiet about surveillance

Patriot Act protest.

Photo by KPBS

The Washington Post highlighted the library community’s efforts to protect the public from government intrusion or censorship in “Librarians won’t stay quiet about government surveillance,” a feature article published today. It has been a longstanding belief in the library community that the possibility of surveillance–whether directly or through access to records of speech, research and exploration–undermines a democratic society.

Washington Post writer Andrea Peterson states:

In September 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft called out the librarians. The American Library Association and civil liberties groups, he said, were pushing “baseless hysteria” about the controversial Patriot Act. He suggested that they were worried that spy agencies wanted to know “how far you have gotten on the latest Tom Clancy novel.”

In the case of government surveillance, they are not shushing. They’ve been among the loudest voices urging freedom of information and privacy protections.

Edward Snowden’s campaign against the National Security Agency’s data collection program has energized this group once again. And a new call to action from the ALA’s president means their voices could be louder and more coordinated than ever.

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About Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright was a press officer of the American Library Association’s Washington Office.

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