Book and Library Community Statement Supporting
The Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157)
The Library and Bookseller Protection Act (S. 1158)
The Library, Bookseller and Personal Data Privacy Act (S. 1507)
Our society places the highest value on the ability to speak freely on any subject. But freedom of speech depends on the freedom to explore ideas privately. Bookstore customers and library patrons must feel free to seek out books on health, religion, politics, the law, or any subject they choose, without fear that the government is looking over their shoulder. Without the assurance that their reading choices will remain private, they will be reluctant to fully exercise their right to read freely.
Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act threatens bookstore and library privacy. FBI agents do not need to prove they have "probable cause" before searching bookstore or library records: they can obtain the records of anyone whom they believe to have information that may be relevant to a terrorism investigation, including people who are not suspected of committing a crime or of having any knowledge of a crime. The request for an order authorizing the search is heard by a secret court in a closed proceeding, making it impossible for a bookseller or librarian to object on First Amendment grounds prior to the execution of the order. Because the order contains a gag provision forbidding a bookseller or librarian from alerting anyone to the fact that a search has occurred, it would be difficult to protest the search even after the fact.
The organizations listed below strongly support federal legislation that addresses this problem: the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157), the Library and Bookseller Protection Act (S. 1158) and the Library, Bookseller and Personal Data Privacy Act (S. 1507). These bills strengthen protections for the privacy of bookstore and library records without preventing the FBI from obtaining crucial information. Under H.R. 1157 and S. 1158, the courts would exercise their normal scrutiny in reviewing requests for bookstore and library records. S. 1507 allows the FBI to follow the procedures authorized by Section 215 but limits searches to the records of "foreign agents" engaged in acts of terrorism or espionage.
We applaud the authors of these bills, U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders (H.R. 1157), Senator Barbara Boxer (S. 1158) and Senator Russell D. Feingold (S. 1507) as well as the Democratic and Republican sponsors and co-sponsors of this legislation. They have shown great courage by defending civil liberties during a time of crisis.
American Association of Law Libraries
American Booksellers Association
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Library Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Association of American Publishers
Association of American University Presses
Association of Booksellers for Children
California Library Association
Childrens Book Council
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Florida Publishers Association
Freedom to Read Foundation
Great Lakes Booksellers Association
Illinois Library Association
Medical Library Association
Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association
Minnesota Library Association
Montana Library Association
Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association
National Association of Independent Publishers Representatives
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association
New England Booksellers Association
New York Library Association
Northern California Independent Booksellers Assn.
Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers Assn.
PEN American Center
PEN New England
PEN USA West
Publishers Association of the West
Publishers Marketing Association
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Small Press Center
Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators
Southeast Booksellers Association
Southern California Booksellers Association
Special Libraries Association
Upper Midwest Booksellers Association
Virginia Library Association
Academy Chicago Publishers
A. Pankovich Publishers
Arte Público Press
Avalon Publishing Group
Avocet Press Inc.
Baker & Taylor
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Borders Group Inc.
Center for Thanatology Research & Education, Inc.
Chicory Blue Press
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Cornell Maritime Press & Tidewater Publishers
Duke University Press
The Feminist Press at the City University of New York
First Books & Inkwater Press
Four Walls Eight Windows
Fugue State Press
Gival Press, LLC
Green Map System
Humanics Publishing Group
International Publishers Co., Inc.
Independent Booksellers Consortium, Inc.
Ingram Book Group
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Lee Stookey Books
Lynne Rienner Publishers
Mountain Empire Publications
New York University Press
North Country Books
Patria Press, Inc.
Pelican Island Publishing
Penguin Group USA
Plum Branch Press
Princeton University Press
PublishingGame.com/Peanut Butter and Jelly Press
Rainbow Books, Inc.
Random House, Inc.
Red Dust, Inc.
Red Rock Press
Rexdale Publishing Company
Sem Fronteiras Press
Seven Stories Press
Shambling Gate Press
Simon & Schuster
Snake Nation Press
Southern Illinois University Press
Square One Publishers
Star Bright Books
Stein Software Corporation
University Press of Colorado
Viveca Smith Publishing
Walker & Company
Wesleyan University Press
Wild Horizons Publishing, Inc.
Winged Willow Press
The Winstead Press Ltd.
Yale University Press