image courtesy gezegenARL is pleased that on June 17, 2014, the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 1852, reached a milestone of 218 cosponsors, representing support from a majority of the members of the US House of Representatives.
In December 2013, ARL and the American Library Association (ALA) filed additional reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a request to waive e-reader access requirements for individuals with disabilities. In the comments, the Associations noted, “We are writing to reiterate our opposition to the waiver sought by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (‘the Manufacturers’) and present new information regarding the manner in which the e-readers covered by the Manufacturers’ petition (‘basic e-readers’) are utilized.”
image © François Proulx
Today, May 22, 2014, the US House of Representatives voted 303 to 121 to pass H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, after amending the bill twice in committees. The original version of the bill, which currently remains unaltered in the Senate, had 151 House co-sponsors. Some of these co-sponsors withdrew their support and opposed the version of H.R. 3361 reported out of the House Rules Committee on May 21 because of the significant changes made. Even several of those co-sponsors who voted in favor of H.R. 3361 expressed disappointment that the bill did not go far enough in curtailing the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records and failed to protect privacy and civil liberties in the same manner as the prior versions.
Benjamin FranklinToday, February 11, 2014, individuals and groups are participating in “The Day We Fight Back,” a day of action protesting the US government’s mass surveillance programs. Revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) programs, including the breadth and scope of bulk collection of data conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (also known as the “library records provision”) have raised serious concerns regarding curtailment of civil liberties and the compatibility of these programs with the First and Fourth Amendments.
image © Terry MadeleyEarlier this month, ARL and the American Library Association (ALA) filed additional reply comments (PDF) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a request to waive e-reader access requirements for individuals with disabilities. In the comments, the Associations noted, “We are writing to reiterate our opposition to the waiver sought by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (‘the Manufacturers’) and present new information regarding the manner in which the e-readers covered by the Manufacturers’ petition (‘basic e-readers’) are utilized.”
A letter from ARL, ALA, and EDUCAUSE asking Senate leadership to oppose S.J. Res 6 and any other legislation to overturn or undermine the Net Neutrality decision adopted by the FCC.
image © François Proulx
On June 4, 2014, ARL joined 23 public sector organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in a letter (PDF) to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the chairs of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding the USA FREEDOM Act, H.R. 3361 and S. 1599, a bill intended to limit the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records. H.R. 3361 as passed by the US House of Representatives was significantly weakened and many provisions now lack clarity.
“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QOn February 13, 2014, in a letter (PDF) to the Chairman and the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association (ALA), and EDUCAUSE signaled their disappointment with the recent DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Verizon v. FCC to vacate the “no blocking” and “no discrimination” rules for public Internet access set forth by the FCC in 2010. At the same time, the associations noted that the court’s recognition of the FCC’s legal authority under Section 706 to protect consumers and the public’s access to Internet services was a positive outcome. The associations stated:
“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QOn January 14, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order’s anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules, a regulation governing network neutrality. The court’s ruling striking down the Open Internet Order could result in Internet service providers providing prioritized delivery for those willing to pay to promote their content, advancing commercial interests over research library and higher education interests. Although the DC Circuit rejected the Open Internet Order, the court upheld the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband services, thus leaving open the possibility of the FCC reclassifying broadband providers or redrafting its network neutrality rules in accordance with the opinion.
FCC websiteOn Monday, December 2, ARL joined others in the library community in a letter (PDF) requesting that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make its primary legal materials and publicly available comments accessible via the Government Printing Office (GPO) Federal Digital System, FDsys. The signatories noted that, “In doing so, the Commission stands not only to improve the public’s access to official government information and ability to participate in critical governmental processes during periods of crisis, but serve as a model for other agencies to implement the principles of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.”