“We don’t want [library patrons] being surveilled because that will inhibit learning, and reading, and creativity,” said Alan Inouye of the American Library Association
– Andrea Germanos, staff writer
The world’s largest library association is warning against the NSA’s “ravenous hunger” for information and is urging the passage of legislation to rein in the agency’s vast surveillance powers.
“You need to have some freedom to learn about what you think is important without worrying about whether it ends up in some FBI file,” said Alan Inouye of the American Library Association. (Photo: Chris Devers/cc/flickr) As whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed, the NSA has been collecting “metadata,” and that’s particularly concerning for libraries, because, as Alan Inouye, director of the Office for Information Technology Policy at the American Library Association (ALA), told The Hill, “libraries are all about metadata.”
“We’re talking about the information patterns of people. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is,” he said.
“You need to have some freedom to learn about what you think is important without worrying about whether it ends up in some FBI file.”
“We don’t want [library patrons] being surveilled because that will inhibit learning, and reading, and creativity,” Inouye told The Hill.
The NSA’s activities reflect an “almost ravenous hunger” for collecting information, Lynne Bradley, director of the ALA’s Office of Government Relations, added.
The group’s “concern is certainly legitimate,” Greg Nojeim, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, told the paper, because “there are a variety of legal authorities that the government can use to compel libraries to turn over information.”
Further, it’s possible that the NSA has demanded local libraries fork over patron data, but they would not be allowed to reveal that those requests were made.
Due to these concerns, the ALA has joined other groups in supporting the proposed USA FREEDOM Act from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), which would amend the sweeping powers of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The ACLU has praised the legislation saying that, while imperfect, it proposes “real spy reform.”
The ALA has long opposed privacy-encroaching surveillance.