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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.

The letter makes the following six recommendations to improve the USA FREEDOM Act and promote stronger privacy protections for communications and records:

  1. Definitively end bulk collection.
  2. Strengthen transparency and transparency-reporting provisions.
  3. Avoid ratifying dragnet searches of international communications.
  4. Strengthen reforms to the FISA Court (FISC) process to provide more accountability.
  5. Restore strong minimization requirements for the FISA pen register and trap-and-trace surveillance authority.
  6. Put strict limits on the new call detail records (CDR) authority.

The letter concludes, “Our community is gravely concerned about the dangerously broad reach of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. We believe that strong legislation can effectively address our concerns and we are committed to supporting Congress in passing such legislation, but we will be forced to oppose any bill that is not a substantial improvement over the version of the USA FREEDOM Act that was passed in the House.”

On June 4, as the Senate was beginning deliberations on the USA FREEDOM Act, ARL joined 23 organizations in an earlier letter (PDF) to Senate leadership regarding the bill.

On May 22, after the House passed H.R. 3361, ARL issued a statement detailing its concerns with the legislation.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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