Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users

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Endorsed by the AALL Executive Board, April 3, 2004

WHEREAS, the American Association of Law Libraries holds that serving the legal information needs of law firms, corporations, academic and governmental institutions, and the general public is a noble calling and that only when individuals have ready access to legal information can they participate fully in the affairs of their government; and

WHEREAS, protecting the privacy of library users and confidentiality of library use promotes the free and open exchange of knowledge and ideas necessary for making the ideal of democracy a reality; and

WHEREAS, the American Association of Law Libraries upholds a duty to its clientele to develop service policies that respect confidentiality and privacy; and

WHEREAS, certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the revised Attorney General Guidelines to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other measures increase the likelihood that the activities of library users, including their use of computers to browse the Web or access email, may be under government surveillance without their knowledge or consent; and

WHEREAS, increased surveillance of these activities threatens civil rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries strongly opposes those provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and of any other current or future legislation, regulations, or guidelines that erode the privacy and confidentiality of library users; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries opposes any legislation, regulations or guidelines that have the effect of suppressing the free and open exchange of ideas and information; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries urges Congress to provide effective oversight of expanding surveillance on library users and urges Congress and the President to amend provisions of the USA Patriot Act and other legislation, regulations, and guidelines that threaten the rights of inquiry and free expression; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries joins other library organizations in resolving to educate library users about threats to privacy and confidentiality and collaborates with others, as appropriate, to oppose these threats to civil liberties; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries transmit a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, to the Attorney General of the United States, to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to the Leadership of both Houses of Congress, to the library community, and to others as appropriate.