Issue Background

Privacy, Surveillance, and Cybersecurity

Our Goal:

Restore the Constitutional privacy rights of library users and all Americans lost to overbroad, invasive and insufficiently “checked and balanced” provisions of the: USA PATRIOT, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, and Electronic Communications Privacy Acts. For decades, librarians have defended the public’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights against government attempts to obtain patrons’ borrowing (and later internet access) records without a warrant and fought for the principle that liberty need and must not be sacrificed to security. ALA thus strongly supports rapid passage of the bipartisan ECPA Amendments Act of 2015.

Throughout ALA’s 140 year history, librarians have defended vigorously the public’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights against government attempts to obtain patrons’ borrowing (and later internet surfing) records with­out a warrant.  Since its inception 70 years ago, ALA’s Washington-based Office of Government Relations has advocated directly -- and with and through broad coalitions of major public interest groups, bipartisan think tanks, and private sector companies -- to achieve both liberty and security without sacrificing one for the other.  Today, ALA remains fundamentally committed to restoring the Constitutional privacy rights of library users and the civil liberties of all Americans lost to multiple over­broad and inadequately “checked and balanced” statutes, including the: USA PATRIOT Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  ALA is dedicated, in particular, to ending ongoing mass surveillance, which continues despite important reforms made by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015.

For more information, please visit our webpage.