Final Phase of Campaign for Reader Privacy Begins

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The final phase of the Campaign for Reader Privacy (CRP) -- a nationwide grassroots petition drive calling for an amendment to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to ensure the privacy of bookstore and library records -- has begun. The centerpiece of CRP, which is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, is a petition drive that is being conducted in bookstores and libraries and on the Web at

"It's crucial that as many booksellers as possible participate in the Campaign for Reader Privacy," said ABA COO Oren Teicher. "As a number of provisions in the Patriot Act, including Section 215, are scheduled to sunset, or expire, at the end of the year, and both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have scheduled hearings on the Act for early next week, it's important to remember we were heard last year. But now it's time to mobilize again for a final push to show Congress that booksellers -- and our customers -- continue to believe that First Amendment rights are undermined by this law."

ABA is distributing new CRP materials -- including redesigned petitions and a new bookmark that asks, "Is Someone Reading Over Your Shoulder?" The petition forms and bookmarks, as a well as a letter to booksellers from ABA COO Oren Teicher, are being mailed in the Red Box to all Book Sense stores. All of the materials are also available by calling ABA at (800) 637-0037, ext. 292, or via download from

"Last year, more than 500 ABA member stores collected over 200,000 signatures on petitions demanding that Congress amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act," said Teicher in his letter to booksellers. "2005 will be a critical year in determining the fate of Section 215. As part of the compromise that led to the passage of the Patriot Act, Section 215 and other provisions of the law that threaten civil liberties are due to expire on December 31.

"Ideally, we would like to see the provision 'sunset' on schedule at the end of the year," Teicher continued. "But we will also strongly support legislation to ensure that any bill reenacting this provision contains adequate safeguards for the confidentiality of bookstore and library patrons' records. Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reintroduced his Freedom to Read Protection Act last month and already has more than 100 co-sponsors; similar bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate." He added, "The success of our efforts will depend on you." (To read the full text of Teicher's letter, click here.)

Earlier in March, ABA e-mailed a letter to independent booksellers who have participated in the Campaign for Reader Privacy that strongly encouraged them to urge their members of Congress to support Sanders' legislation and to become a co-sponsor of his bill. Attached with the e-mail was a template letter that booksellers can send to their members of Congress.

To view the list of H.R. 1157's co-sponsors, click here.