Washington eBulletin - October 2017

  • Bookmark and Share

Vol. 2017 Issue 10

A Look Ahead

Congress Considers Extending Surveillance Authority

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes the U.S. government to collect, use, and disseminate communications content and metadata. It covers electronic communications stored by internet service providers, as well as phone calls. Section 702 was promoted as a narrow surveillance authority limited to the collection of communications of non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States for terrorism-related purposes, but the public has since learned that 702 has been used to collect the communications of tens of thousands of people for purposes unrelated to terrorism. Section 702 will expire on December 31, 2017, unless Congress reauthorizes it. 

AALL supports efforts to strengthen privacy protections in the law and increase transparency about how the government uses its authority. On September 7, 2017, we joined a broad coalition of privacy, civil liberties, and transparency organizations to urge members of Congress to vote "No" on reauthorization of Section 702 if it is not significantly reformed. We expect more debate about reauthorization through the end of the year.

House Committee Turns Attention to the FDLP

On September 26, 2017, AALL members Beth Williams and Stephen Parks, director of the Robert Crown Law Library and senior lecturer in law at Stanford Law School and state librarian of the State Law Library of Mississippi, respectively, joined Laurie Hall, acting superintendent of documents at the Government Publishing Office (GPO); Mike Furlough, executive director of HathiTrust Digital Library; and Celina McDonald, government documents and criminology librarian at the University of Maryland to testify before the House Committee on House Administration for its hearing on "Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 - Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)". This was the third in a series of hearings on modernizing the GPO.

Hall presented a number of themes for Title 44 reform that GPO has identified as priorities from the FDLP community: 
  • making GPO responsible for the lifecycle management of digital and tangible Government information;
  • redefining "Government publication" to explicitly include reference to digital information;
  • protecting the national asset that depository collections represent for present and future generations;
  • providing for more flexibility for depository libraries to elect to receive Government information in the form and formats that best meet the needs of the communities they serve; and
  • ensuring accountability by federal agencies for supplying the FDLP with the information products they issue.
After Hall's testimony, the Committee heard from stakeholders themselves about the need for reform. Beth Williams recommended three major changes to Title 44: amending 44 U.S.C. § 1901 to include non-print formats; amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include legal deposit; and further amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include preservation. Stephen Parks recommended that Congress offer federal depository libraries more opportunities to partner with GPO to preserve information; allow additional flexibility to permit regional libraries to partner with selective libraries and to share materials with each other and across state lines; and amend § 4102 to assure no-fee public access. AALL included similar recommendations in our letter to the Committee on Title 44 modernization. Witness testimony is available via the Committee's repository.

The next hearing on GPO modernization is tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2017, and a bill may be introduced shortly thereafter. It's important that AALL members prepare to take action to ensure that any changes to Title 44 guarantee permanent public access to official, authentic government information. If your representative serves on the Committee on House Administration, please email Emily Feltren, AALL's director of government relations, as soon as possible. And stay tuned for future news and alerts on how you can get involved!

Act Now


Attend the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & FDL Conference - Virtually!

Register to participate in the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference right from your desk! The theme of this year's event, which will be held October 16-18, 2017, is "Safeguarding Government Information Access for All". There will be several opportunities to hear from GPO and the Depository Library Council about recommended changes to Title 44 and to provide your input on the recommendations. You'll also hear keynote presentations by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sanchez, and Director of the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom James LaRue. The final schedule is now available for download. 

AALL in the States

UELMA Advocacy in 2018


The Uniform Law Commission is collecting its 2018 legislative enactment plans and Commissioners in nearly a dozen states have included the Uniform Legal Electronic Material Act (UELMA) on their plans. As state legislatures return to session next year, AALL advocates will work to identify UELMA sponsors, usher the bill through the legislature, and advocate for enactment. If you're interested to contributing to UELMA advocacy in your state, please contact Emily Feltren.

Roundup and Review
  • AALL filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calling on the judicial body to ensure that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts makes electronic federal court records freely available "to the greatest extent possible." The brief was filed in response to National Veterans Legal Services Program et al v. United States of America.
  • We also joined sixty-six library associations, nonprofit organizations, legal technology companies, former senior government officials, librarians, innovators, and professors of law as amici curiae in response to American Society for Testing and Materials et al. v. Public.Resource.Org. The case concerns Public.Resource.Org's copying of model building codes and educational testing codes which have been enacted into federal law and regulations. The brief urges the court to find that the copying is not infringing. 
  • AALL signed on to a letter to Congress opposing the expansion of types of records not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • We expressed our support for the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act (H.R. 3427, S. 1701), which would expand access to the results of federally-funded research.
Please note: Publication of the Washington eBulletin will be on a short break until the start of the new year.