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Privacy, Security & Civil Liberties

ARL is deeply committed to academic freedom, and that includes freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into the process of research, teaching, and learning. Scholars and educators should not hesitates to follow lines of discussion or inquiry for fear of running afoul of government monitors or censors. ARL advocates to maintain the delicate balance in the law that protects these freedoms while ensuring the government has the powers it needs to ensure safety and security of the public.

Below are links to information and resources on key topics in privacy, security, and civil liberties.


Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)

ARL, with others in the public and private sectors, challenged a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) final Order on the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The Center for Democracy and Technology with 10 other parties including ARL, filed a petition with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for review of the FCC CALEA Order. In addition, ARL, ALA, and ACRL pursued a regulatory approach.

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Cybersecurity Legislation

In 2012, the US Congress considered cybersecurity legislation that is expected to resurface in 2013. ARL and other library and civil liberty groups expressed serious privacy concerns with the bills considered in 2012.

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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 authorized unprecedented surveillance of non–US persons and US persons who are believed to be outside the United States, while prohibiting the intentional targeting of persons in the US without a warrant. In September and December 2012 respectively, the US House of Representatives and Senate reauthorized the FISA Amendments Act for an additional five years through 2013. President Obama signed the extension on December 31, 2012.

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USA PATRIOT Act

The USA PATRIOT Act is a package of surveillance and intelligence law changes that were made in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Two of the most controversial provisions have directly affected libraries, as they substantially broaden the government’s ability to demand information about our users. With National Security Letters and FISA court orders, government agents can obtain almost any information with only the thinnest justification, and very little oversight. ARL participates actively in efforts to increase oversight and privacy protections in the law.

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