AALL Joins Broad Coalition to Urge Surveillance Reform by June 1 Deadline

March 25, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

In a letter signed by more than 45 privacy advocates, tech companies, and professional and trade associations, AALL today urged significant reform of our nation’s surveillance laws. Addressed to President Obama, members of the intelligence community, and Congressional leadership, the coalition letter calls on lawmakers to act before key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act – including Section 215,which has been used as the basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of records – sunset on June 1, 2015.

The coalition urges that any legislative or Administration effort to reform the USA PATRIOT Act must include: 1) Ending bulk collection under Section 215 provision, as well as under Section 214, the provision governing pen registers and trap and trace devices; and 2) Transparency and accountability measures for government and private sector reporting, as well as a proposal for the declassification of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court decisions. We also urge members of Congress to oppose any surveillance legislation that does not contain major reforms and to avoid adding any new mandates to the law that would be unduly controversial and could derail reform efforts.

In November 2014, Senate blocked consideration of the USA FREEDOM Act, rejecting the last opportunity to reform the National Security Agency’s surveillance program before the year’s end. With the June 1 deadline approaching, AALL urges Congress to move quickly to enact surveillance reform.

Today’s the Day! Participate in AALL’s Law Librarian Day of Action

March 18, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

Today, nearly two dozen of your law librarian colleagues will meet with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill to discuss the most pressing issues affecting your profession. In 5 minutes or less, you can help to magnify their influence and make a difference for law libraries by contacting your members of Congress today!

AALL’s Legislative Action Center is ready to send customizable emails to your members of Congress on our top Lobby Day issues with just the click of a button. Prefer to advocate over the phone?  You can find lobby day talking points on all of our legislative priorities on AALLNET, along with our best tips for contacting legislators and helpful advocacy one-pagers with background on each issue or bill.

This year, Lobby Day participants are targeting members of Congress with specific asks based on their interests and committee assignments. If you registered in advance to participate in our Virtual Lobby Day, you have already received the materials you need to take action on targeted issues. If not, never fear! Enter your home address in our Legislative Action Center to get all the information you’ll need about your members of Congress.  For instance, you can consider your members’ committee assignments to determine what issues they’re most likely to support. If your Congressman sits on the House Judiciary committee, pitch him on the Email Privacy Act. If he sits on House Oversight, consider asking him to co-sponsor the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act. On the Senate side, members of the Judiciary Committee are good targets for ECPA reform. If your Senators or Representative are members of either chamber’s Appropriations Committee, pitch them on full funding for the Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Archives, or Legal Services Corporation. View your members of Congress’ profiles to find out if they have already co-sponsored AALL’s target legislation—if they haven’t, you can ask them to do so using our template message and if they have, you can use our sample alerts to say thank you.

Participating in the Virtual Lobby Day is really that painless. And if you can’t find 5 minutes of free time today, why not take action tomorrow? By making a call or sending an email, you’ll give AALL a strong showing on Capitol Hill and help to advance a policy agenda that makes a difference for law libraries.

Thanks for all that you do!

March Washington E-Bulletin

March 2, 2015

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

Vol. 2015, Issue 03
*AALL Lobby Day Special Edition*





AALL Applauds FCC Approval of Strong Net Neutrality Rules

February 26, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to adopt strict new rules for Internet providers, protecting net neutrality by reclassifying the Internet as a public utility. Under the new rules, broadband Internet service will be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The rules lay out several key prohibitions on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including banning ISPs from blocking or slowing down (“throttling”) web traffic or speeding it up in exchange for money (“paid prioritization”), and will apply to both fixed and wireless carriers. The Commission voted to adopt the rules along party lines 3-2, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

AALL commends the FCC on this historic vote, which echoes our July comments to the Commission. Together with the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association, AALL urged the FCC to pursue reclassification under Title II, while exercising forbearance for regulations in the Communications Act that are not pertinent to contemporary Internet service, are costly, or are burdensome. “Law libraries rely on net neutrality to fulfill their duty to provide nondiscriminatory access to online legal content. Reclassifying the Internet under Title II…will ensure that law libraries are able to provide equal access to the Internet and that everyone – whether a researcher, attorney, self-represented litigant, small business owner, or student – has a consistent and reliable way of accessing information online,” AALL President Holly M. Riccio said in a statement.

The new rules reflect more than a year of deliberation by the FCC and a surprising about-face by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, whose initial proposal was much friendlier to ISPs. Internet Service Providers are likely to challenge the new Open Internet Order in the courts, while Congressional Republicans are seeking a legislative solution to undermine the FCC’s authority. Still, today’s vote is a significant victory for open Internet advocates and a strong signal of the Commission’s intent to protect net neutrality to the best of its ability.

Can’t make it to D.C.? Here’s how you can help…

February 12, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

In just a few short weeks, law librarians will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with their members of Congress to discuss AALL’s top priority issues as part of our 2015 Local Advocate Lobby Day. Their conversations will cover a range of important topics facing law librarianship, including proposed Freedom of Information Act reforms, digital privacy, funding for the Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress, and related agencies.

If you’re unable to join your fellow AALL members in our nation’s capital, never fear! You can still help to magnify the impact of these meetings and expand AALL’s influence in Congress from the comfort of your desk.

Sign up to participate in our Virtual Lobby Day.

Our Virtual Lobby Day will take place simultaneously on March 18 and you can take action at any time during the day. By registering for the Virtual Lobby Day in advance, you’ll receive personalized directions and tips about contacting your member of Congress on March 18 using our Legislative Action Center. We’ll provide everything you need to take action on our targeted issues, including: background information on legislation, talking points, sample messages, and specific asks to make of your members of Congress based on their interests and committee assignments.

Participating in our Virtual Lobby Day is quick and easy. Pledge to take part today and help give law librarians a strong showing on Capitol Hill on March 18!

Guest Post: Confessions of a Novice Lobbyer

February 9, 2015

By Ronald Wheeler, Director of the Law Library & Information Resources & Associate Professor of Legal Research, Suffolk University Law School

In just five weeks, AALL will host its third Local Advocate Lobby Day in Washington, D.C.  Last March, I traveled to D.C. to attend the second Lobby Day and the experience was transformative for me.  Here’s why:

Although I had done some lobbying on the state level for LGBT rights issues back when I lived in New Mexico, before my trip to D.C., I had never met face-to-face with a U.S. congressperson or with their staff.  I had also never lobbied on issues related to law librarianship or to my professional life. I had always lobbied about deeply personal issues, calling on heartfelt emotions and personal experience to carry me through if I somehow faltered in meetings. So, the idea of meeting with my members of Congress to talk about the issues affecting my job was, frankly, terrifying to me. And, as a resident of California at the time, my members of Congress were media darlings with the equivalent of rock star status in my mind. The prospect of meeting with the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Diane Feinstein had me quaking in my boots.

Thankfully, when I arrived in D.C., all of my fears and insecurities were anticipated and expertly dealt with by AALL’s Government Relations Office (GRO) staff. First – after welcoming us to Lobby Day headquarters in Capitol Hill and feeding us breakfast – the GRO staff administered an extremely well-run, detailed, and thorough advocacy training. We AALL volunteer advocates were given a presentation describing the bills we were to focus on, their current progress in Congress, and the issues being currently debated in the legislation. I walked away knowing the pros and cons of each bill, my senators and representative’s position on each, and written talking points to refer to during my conversations with my members of Congress’s staffs. I was given time to ask questions, to familiarize myself with each bill and its issues, and to practice my shtick.  By the time we were headed to the Hill, I felt entirely prepared and equipped to engage with my congresspersons.

In the afternoon, I met with staffers from Representative Pelosi, Senator Boxer, and Senator Feinstein’s offices. The legislative staff I spoke with was open and friendly and thankful to be briefed on issues like the Email Privacy Act and the recently-passed name change of the Government Printing Office to the Government Publishing Office.

The experience gave me a feeling of satisfaction for having conquered my fears and for doing essential work for my premier professional association. I learned about the AALL legislative priorities and their significance, I built valuable lobbying skills, and I formed relationships with staffers at my legislators’ offices.

My participation in AALL Lobby Day was a great experience. I highly recommend you give it a try for yourself.  I honestly had a blast, and if I can do it, anyone can.

The 2015 AALL Lobby Day will be held on Wednesday, March 18 in Washington, D.C. Register now to participate.

FCC Chairman Unveils Plan to Protect Net Neutrality

February 6, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

This week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to regulate broadband Internet service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, protecting net neutrality by reclassifying the Internet as a public utility. The Commission is expected to vote on the Chairman’s plan on February 26.

AALL applauds the decision of Chairman Wheeler to rely on Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the authority for which we advocated in our July comments to the FCC. Reclassification under Title II 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. In an op-ed on Wired.com published Wednesday, Chairman Wheeler wrote, “Using [Title II], I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services….My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”

While Open Internet advocates, content providers like Twitter and Netflix, and many Congressional Democrats lauded the Chairman’s decision, the proposed reclassification drew criticism from others. Senator John Thune, who recently floated legislation to restrict the FCC’s authority on net neutrality, said in a statement, “Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to regulate the Internet as a public utility is not about net neutrality – it is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bully tactics of political activists and the president himself.” Meanwhile, ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon look poised to sue. With the late February vote fast approaching, legal challenges could make for a more drawn out process.

Net neutrality is critical to law libraries, their missions, and their patrons. AALL urges to the Commission to adopt the Chairman’s proposal.


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