Information Update - Fall 2010

Controversial PATRIOT Act Provisions Extended

In February 2010, three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were extended by Congress and signed into law by President Obama for one more year, despite repeated efforts by library organizations and civil liberties groups to cancel them. These three sections of the PATRIOT Act authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that allow surveillance on multiple phones; allow court-approved seizure of property and records in anti-terrorist operations; and allow surveillance against a "lone wolf," a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
 
Several lawmakers last year had introduced reform bills that would have reinstituted privacy protections for U.S. citizens, specifically in the library provision, Section 215, that permits the Justice Department to search library and bookstore records while investigating suspected terrorist activity. None of these, however, made it to the Senate floor.
 
While some, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who sought reform of the controversial act saw this as a failure by Congress to ensure adequate privacy safeguards, others such as Lynne Bradley, director of the American Library Association Office of Government Relations, characterized it as "a smart tactical move" that will allow more time to garner support for future reforms of the Act. (Oder, N. (2010, March 1). Patriot Act extended for one year without change. Library Journal. Retrieved from www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6720920.html?industryid=47102; The Nation; Patriot Act provisions extended. (2010, February 28). Los Angeles Times, A28. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com)
 
Kevin Norris
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition