Today, the Senate passed the re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA), a bill that gives the National Security Agency power to monitor the international phone calls and emails of Americans. The American Library Association asked library supporters to contact their legislators to advocate for amendments that would increase privacy protections to the law.
Prior to the vote on the provision, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) asked for more time for the Senate to debate and consider amendments that would increase privacy protections and add transparency requirements.
The FAA is the 2008 law that, among other things, legalized the Bush administration’s warrant-less wiretapping program. As it did in 2008, ALA opposed the warrantless wiretap program because the public is at risk of being needlessly spied upon with little or no legal recourse, as the law reads now.
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Jazzy Wright is the Press Officer of the American Library Association's Washington Office. Email her at email@example.com.
Please contact both of your senators as soon as possible to request that the Senate take time before voting on re-authorization of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) during this Congress.
ALA asks all senators to support a group of their bipartisan colleagues including Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who are asking for more time for the Senate to debate and consider amendments that would increase privacy protections and add transparency requirements. The FAA is due to sunset at the end of the year, so many in the Senate want to move quickly and just reauthorize it without any debate or consideration of amendments.
Please head to the Legislative Action Center to write your senators and ask them to ask their senate leadership to schedule time for debate and full consideration of reform proposals from Senators Wyden, Paul and Lee. Do not merely reauthorize the FAA as it currently stands. Reforms to better protect the public from warrantless wiretaps are necessary now.
This action is important to the library community because of our long standing principles of patron privacy and more recent concerns about online privacy and Internet freedoms for our patrons and the general public.
Background: The FAA is the 2008 law that, among other things, legalized the Bush administration’s warrant-less wiretapping program. Congress must now reauthorize the FAA before the January 1, 2013. ALA is one of many organizations that continue to seek reform to the FAA and to urge that the warrantless wiretap provision include judicial review to obtain warrants. As it did in 2008, ALA opposes the warrantless wiretap program because the public is at risk of being needlessly spied upon with little or no legal recourse, as the law reads now.
Many organizations, including ALA, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have signed onto a letter being sent to the Senate urging them to slow down and consider reforms. While the time is very short, there is time for the Senate to address these issues in FAA. Merely extending the existing FAA continues threaten the privacy rights of the American public.
Ted Wegner is the Grassroots Coordinator for ALA Washington Office's Office of Government Relations (OGR).