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Coalitions Support Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Bill for Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says image © François Proulx

This week, ARL joined two groups of organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in letters to US Congressional leadership expressing support for the compromise version of the USA FREEDOM Act introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on July 29, 2014 (S. 2685). The July 29 letter focuses on the enhanced transparency provision (PDF) and the July 30 letter addresses the bill more comprehensively (PDF). Both letters urge Congress to act swiftly and pass the new version of the bill, without any dilution or amendment. 

 
 

Library, Higher Education Organizations File Net Neutrality Comments with FCC

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QToday, July 18, 2014, ARL, together with 10 other library and higher education groups, filed comments with the FCC on net neutrality (PDF). These comments largely expand on the points made in the Net Neutrality Principles jointly filed by library and higher education groups on July 10, going into greater detail and making specific suggestions to strengthen the proposals made in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

 
 

Net Neutrality Comments Filed with FCC by Higher Education and Library Coalition

On July 18, 2014, a coalition of higher education and library organizations—including ARL—filed comments urging the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect and promote the open Internet.

pdfcomments-NN-library-highered_NN-18jul2014-final.pdf

 
 

Higher Education, Library Groups Release Net Neutrality Principles

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QToday, July 10, 2014, higher education and library organizations representing thousands of colleges, universities, and libraries nationwide released a joint set of Net Neutrality Principles (PDF) they recommend form the basis of an upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to protect the openness of the Internet. The groups believe network neutrality protections are essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement, and economic growth.

 
 

Net Neutrality Principles

On July 10, 2014, ARL along with 10 other higher education and library organizations released a joint set of Net Neutrality Principles they recommend form the basis of an upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to protect the openness of the Internet. The groups believe network neutrality protections are essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement, and economic growth.

pdfhigher-ed-libraries-net-neutrality-principles-10July2014.pdf

pdfhigher-ed-libraries-net-neutrality-press-release-and-principles-10July2014.pdf

 
 

Letter to FCC in Protecting an Open Internet

A May 13, 2014 ex parte to the Federal Communications Commission concerning preserving a protecting the open Internet in support of education, research, and innovation.

pdfletter-ALA-ARL-EDU-to-FCC-final-12may2014.pdf

 
 

ARL Joins Coalition in Advocating for Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says image © François Proulx

On June 18, 2014, ARL joined 36 organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in a letter (PDF) to US Senate leadership expressing concerns with the version of the USA FREEDOM Act passed by the US House of Representatives on May 22 (H.R. 3361). The legislation was originally intended to limit the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records. The letter notes that, before a vote on the House floor, last-minute changes were made that resulted in half of the bill’s co-sponsors withdrawing their support and voting against the bill because it was significantly weakened and lacked clarity.

 
 

Email Privacy Act Cosponsored by Majority of House of Representatives; ARL Applauds Milestone in ECPA Reform

e-mail-iconimage 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.

 
 

ARL Joins Coalition in Letter Supporting Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says 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.

 
 

ARL Disappointed by Version of USA FREEDOM Act Passed by US House of Representatives

telephone with sticker that says "this phone is tapped"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.

 
 

FCC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Net Neutrality

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QAt an open meeting held on May 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considered the issue of “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet,” or net neutrality. The FCC voted on—and passed by 3-2—a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which proposes new rules in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that overturned the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Rules regarding anti-discrimination and anti-blocking. The FCC seeks comments, due July 15, 2014, on a wide range of topics including the appropriate scope of the rules, whether paid prioritization should be banned outright, and what legal authority provides the most effective path to protecting an open Internet.

 
 

FCC to Consider Revised Net Neutrality Rules

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is once again trying to propose network neutrality rules that would assure an open Internet, though early press reports based on a draft proposal indicate that more work needs to be done to achieve network neutrality. In its January 2014 decision in Verizon v. FCC, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down previous FCC rules on network neutrality. The FCC will consider new rules on May 15. The proposed rules will then be subject to public comment and will be carefully reviewed by many communities, given the possible impact on free speech, innovation, online learning, and more. ARL, the American Library Association (ALA), and EDUCAUSE have been collaborating on network neutrality issues and will continue to work with the FCC and other communities as the proposed rules are publicly considered. 

 
 

Letter to FCC in Support of an Open Internet

On February 13, 2014, in a letter 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 to vacate the “no blocking” and “no discrimination” rules for public Internet access set forth by the FCC in 2010.

pdf ltr-fcc-net-neutrality-13feb2014.pdf

 
 

ARL, ALA, EDUCAUSE Urge FCC to Develop Net Neutrality Policies; FCC Issues Statement, Calls for Comment

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“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:

 
 

The Day We Fight Back: NSA Reform Bills to End Mass Surveillance and Provide Greater Transparency

Benjamin Franklin with quote from paragraph 2Benjamin 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.

 
 

FCC Grants One-Year Waiver of E-Reader Accessibility Requirement

image © Terry MadeleyOn January 28, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a one-year waiver exempting e-readers from the requirement that equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The FCC granted the waiver in response to a petition filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers, but limited the waiver to only one year despite the coalition’s request for an indefinite waiver. In the order granting the waiver (PDF), the FCC stated:

 
 

ARL Disappointed with Court Ruling on Network Neutrality

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“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.

 
 

ARL and ALA File Comments to FCC on E-Reader Accessibility

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.”

 
 

Additional Reply Comments to FCC E-Reader Accessibility Waiver

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.”

pdf GC_Docket_No._10-213_Opposition_Letter_Sent_on_Behalf_of_ARL_and_ALA.pdf

 
 

Library Community Encourages FCC to Make Materials Accessible via FDsys

F C C website screenshotFCC 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.”

 
 

Two Bills Seek to Address NSA Surveillance Practices

phone with sticker that says This Phone Is Tappedimage © François ProulxThe continuous release of information concerning the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance practices has led to increased scrutiny by Congress. Two bills have been introduced that seek to address some of the NSA surveillance practices and address serious privacy concerns. First, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the FISA Improvement Act of 2013 (PDF) that was approved by the Select Committee on Intelligence on October 31. The bill was not made publicly available until after the committee’s approval. The second, a bicameral and bipartisan bill, the USA Freedom Act of 2013 (PDF), was introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on October 29. This bill seeks to rein in the NSA’s bulk collection, analysis, and storage of Americans’ electronic communications. ARL with others in the public and private sectors support the USA Freedom Act of 2013.

 
 

FCC to Decide E-Reader Waiver Petition by January 28

image © Terry MadeleyOn October 22, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau announced that the FCC needs more time to review a petition requesting a waiver for certain e-reader devices to be exempt from the FCC’s advanced communications accessibility requirements. The petition was filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers. The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued an order (PDF) granting a temporary waiver from the accessibility requirements for certain e-readers until January 28, 2014. During this temporary waiver period, the FCC will evaluate the merits of the petition and decide whether to grant or deny the waiver request. For more background, read about the reply comments ARL submitted to the FCC in September 2013 opposing the waiver.

 
 

ARL, Coalition Voice Support for Surveillance Transparency Legislation

phone with sticker that says This Phone Is Tappedimage © François ProulxOn September 30, ARL, together with 71 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent a letter to the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees (PDF), calling on Congress to provide greater transparency around national security–related requests by the US government to Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers for information about users and subscribers. The coalition strongly supports the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 (S. 1452) and the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 3035), each of which would clarify that companies have the right to publish basic statistics about the government demands for user data that they receive.

 
 

ARL Urges FCC to Support E-Reader Accessibility

image © Terry MadeleyOn September 13, ARL submitted reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing a petition filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers. The manufacturers are requesting a waiver from the FCC that would exempt e-readers from the requirement that equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

 
 

ARL Joins Coalition in Urging Congress to Evaluate, Reform NSA Surveillance

image © François ProulxYesterday ARL, together with 59 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent a letter (PDF) to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on Congress to evaluate the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs and risks to civil liberties. Based upon such a review, the coalition urges Congress to enact critical reforms to ensure that government surveillance programs include robust safeguards for constitutional rights. Such reforms should include tightening the standards for collection and use of information, including communications metadata; increasing meaningful judicial authorization and review of such programs; and limiting the secrecy of such programs. The coalition sent the letter in advance of the Judiciary Committee's hearing today on the NSA surveillance programs.

 
 

ARL, Coalition Request Public Report on Government Surveillance

phone-with-sticker-reading-this-phone-is-tappedimage © François ProulxYesterday ARL, together with 19 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent a letter (PDF) to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), calling on the PCLOB to author a public report about surveillance authorities and risks to civil liberties. The coalition sent the letter in advance of the PCLOB's first-ever public workshop, held today, to discuss the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs that collect phone records and monitor Internet traffic.

 
 

ARL Joins 22 Groups in Urging US Attorney General to Release Reports on Telephone Surveillance

US DOJ, image © David KingYesterday ARL, along with 22 other good-government groups, sent a letter (PDF) to the US Department of Justice urging Attorney General Eric Holder to make public any reports by Inspector General Michael Horowitz regarding the collection of Americans’ telephone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. If the Office of the Inspector General has not previously conducted a full review of this program, the letter asks it to do so.

 
 

Over 100 Civil Liberties Organizations and Internet Companies Demand Full-Scale Congressional Investigation of NSA Surveillance

phone with sticker on it saying "this phone is tapped"image © François ProulxToday, dozens of civil liberties organizations and Internet companies—including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, ThoughtWorks, and Americans for Limited Government—have joined the coalition demanding that Congress initiate a full-scale investigation into the National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance programs. The coalition includes ARL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many other organizations and companies concerned with privacy and civil liberties. 

 
 

ARL Joins 86 Orgs, Internet Companies Demanding Committee Investigation, End to Dragnet Spying

phone with sticker on it saying "this phone is tapped"image © François ProulxYesterday, ARL joined with a broad, bipartisan coalition of 86 organizations and Internet companies—including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reddit, Mozilla, and the American Civil Liberties Union—to send a letter to Congress demanding swift investigation and reform in light of the recent revelations about unchecked global surveillance.

 
 

Letter to Senate Leadership re: Preserving the Open Internet

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.

pdf lt-pubint-nn-14oct11.pdf

 
 
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