Renewed Call for ECPA Reform

September 11, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

AALL has joined more than 80 privacy advocacy and tech groups on two new letters urging immediate action on Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) reform. Addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the letters call on the leadership to bring their chambers’ ECPA reform bills to the floor, where we believe they will pass overwhelmingly. Both bills (H.R. 1852, S. 607) have stalled in Congress recently, despite widespread support from lawmakers; in the House, more than a majority of Representatives are listed as co-sponsors of the legislation.

As the letters read, “updating ECPA would respond to the deeply held concerns of Americans about their privacy” without impeding law enforcement. H.R. 1852 and S. 607 would make clear that the warrant standard of the Constitution applies to private digital information just as it applies to physical property, eliminating the outdated discrepancy that affords data stored in the cloud less protection than data stored locally.

Importantly, this legislation guarantees Americans’ full constitutional and statutory protections for electronic communications like text messages, emails, photographs, and documents stored online. The only resistance to ECPA reform comes from civil regulatory agencies seeking an exception to allow them to obtain the content of customer communications directly from third party service providers.  Such a carve out would expand government power, as government regulators currently cannot compel service providers to disclose their customers’ communications.  The coalition any rules that would treat private data differently depending on the type of technology used to store it.

AALL urges Congressional leadership to bring H.R. 1852 and S. 607 to a vote now. We strongly support these proposed reforms to ECPA, which ensure important protections to the privacy of library users and appropriately balance the government’s interest in protecting national security with the protections of privacy and freedom from government surveillance the Constitution requires.

Advocacy Training Archive  

September 9, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

Over 175 AALL and chapter members have already viewed the Government Relations Office’s 2014 quarterly advocacy trainings. But there’s no need to fear missing out! All past recordings are now archived in the AALL Resources library on AALLNET.

Want more? Visit the GRO’s Presentations page, which hosts links to PowerPoint presentations from previous trainings, Annual Meeting content, and materials from other events, organized by year. We encourage you to review the presentations at your leisure and contact us with any questions.  

Q1 Training: “The 113th Continued: What to Expect in Congress’s Second Session and How You Can Help”

Q2 Training: “Proving Your Value: Skills for Public Law Librarian Advocacy”

Q3 Training: “Making the Most of Midterms: Opportunities for Advocacy at Home”

Q4 Training: December 2014. Stay tuned!

September Washington E-Bulletin

September 5, 2014

The September issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is available now on AALLNET.

Vol. 2014, Issue 09





August Washington E-Bulletin

August 1, 2014

The August issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is available now on AALLNET.

Vol. 2014, Issue 08





Surveillance Reform Moves Forward in Senate

July 29, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a compromise version of the USA FREEDOM Act that would significantly limit government surveillance of Americans’ communications. AALL has joined a number of open government groups in a letter of support for the bill and urges Congress to pass it promptly, without weakening the legislation.

In May, the House passed a substantially diluted version of the USA FREEDOM Act, causing many privacy and transparency advocates, including AALL, to withdraw their support.  The new Senate bill, which has the backing of the Obama Administration, restores many of the privacy and transparency measures that were removed in the House.  The new bill would prohibit the National Security Agency’s (NSA) collection of phone records and Internet data in bulk by establishing narrowly defined specific selection terms. The bill would also require the NSA to report more information to the public and would create a panel of special advocates to support privacy rights before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In a statement, Leahy said the bill would be the “most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago.” The Center for Democracy & Technology offers this excellent comparison chart of the House and Senate versions.

With Congress headed home for the month of August and only a handful of legislative days remaining before the November midterm elections, time is of the essence. It’s widely believed Leahy will push to put the bill directly on the Senate floor in early September. While the new USA FREEDOM Act isn’t perfect, the bill offer an important compromise between the White House, Congress, companies, privacy advocates, and the intelligence community, and is our best opportunity for limiting government surveillance of Americans’ communications.

Register Now: “Making the Most of Midterms” Online Advocacy Training August 27

July 24, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

With midterm elections just around the corner, the coming months will offer many occasions for law librarian advocacy in your home state or district. Learn how to capitalize on these important opportunities at our next online advocacy training, “Making the Most of Midterms: Opportunities for Advocacy at Home,” on August 27 from 12:00 – 12:30 pm ET.

AALL’s Government Relations Office will present the best ways to exert your influence at hometown events like August recess town hall meetings, library tours, and candidate meet and greets. You’ll learn the skills needed to maximize your impact and hear our recommendations for the best pre-election opportunities for legislative success.

As always, this training is complimentary for AALL and chapter members.  Please register online by August 26.

AALL Files Comments in Net Neutrality Proceeding

July 22, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA) filed comments together in the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s Open Internet proceeding. The comments, available here, were authored by AALL’s Government Relations Office and Government Relations Committee, with input and examples from AAHSL, MLA, and SLA.

AALL, AAHSL, MLA, and SLA urge the FCC to create open Internet rules that preserve and defend the key principle of network neutrality. Our comments focus on the important role libraries play in providing unbiased access to information over the Internet and, increasingly, as the creators and hosts of information. Libraries, for example, may provide educational opportunities online in the form of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) or host information produced by other sources, like state governments and the courts.

Our organizations oppose any open Internet rules that would allow for a tiered system of access, as is presently proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’s “commercially unreasonable” standard, which would permit the sanctioning of paid prioritization under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Paid prioritization inherently favors content providers that can pay fees for favorable treatment, while non-profit content providers like libraries, educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations are relegated to second-class delivery. We urge the FCC to establish a firm foundation for its open Internet rules by reclassifying broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, while forbearing from applying any possibly unnecessary, costly, and burdensome regulations. Such reclassification would subject Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to common carrier rules that better ensure equal, nondiscriminatory access to content on the Internet and require ISPs to operate more transparently.

Net neutrality is critical to libraries, their missions, and their patrons.  AALL, AAHSL, MLA, and SLA urge the FCC to create open Internet rules that preserve and defend this key principle. Over 1 million comments on net neutrality were filed with the FCC, which extended the deadline by several days after a crush of traffic to their electronic comment filing system. Though the initial comment period is now closed, a second period for reply comments will run until September 10.


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