Recent Developments on the Public Access Front

April 9, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

Public access to government information is one of AALL’s core policy priorities and we’re happy to report on some recent progress in this area.

In late March, a bipartisan coalition of Representatives and Senators re-introduced the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research (FASTR) Act (H.R. 1477/S.779). FASTR would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million and above to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research. A coalition of 17 national and regional library, publishing, funding, research and advocacy organizations, including AALL, sent a letter to the House and Senate sponsors yesterday, thanking them for their introduction of this important legislation.

FASTR was first introduced in 2013 and shortly after, the White House released a directive  requiring the results of research funded by major federal government entities to be made freely available to the public. H.R. 1477 and S.779 would strengthen and codify that directive by shortening the embargo period from research publication to public access from 12 months to six.

The 2013 directive also required that agencies and departments release plans for ensuring public access to articles and data resulting from taxpayer-funded research. Most recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their plans. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, provides useful analysis of agency plans on their blog.


April Washington E-Bulletin

April 1, 2015

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

IN THIS ISSUE
Vol. 2015, Issue 04

A LOOK AHEAD

ACT NOW

AALL IN THE STATES

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW


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.

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

A LOOK AHEAD

ACT NOW

AALL IN THE STATES

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW


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!


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