July 28, 2015

By Elizabeth Holland

Today, AALL joins a number a number of privacy advocates, civil liberties groups, security experts, and technology companies for a Day of Action in opposition to the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA, S. 754). Our message is simple: CISA is a bad bill. While this legislation promises security, in actuality, it does more to increase surveillance, undermine transparency, and leave your personal information vulnerable to attack than it does to protect against cyber threats. With the Senate slated to consider it in the coming weeks – even as early as next week– we urge members of Congress to oppose CISA and, should push come to shove, implore President Obama to veto it.

Chief among our privacy concerns with CISA is the permission the bill grants for overbroad information sharing. Under CISA, companies in the private sector are authorized to share information about their users’ Internet activity with the federal government, even when that data is unnecessary to identify or protect against a threat. Information shared with one federal agency could then be shared throughout the government, potentially putting your personal information or that of your library users in the hands of agencies like the National Security Agency, Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense and leaving the information vulnerable to hackers.

CISA would also add a new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the first time since 1967. Section 10 of the bill provides that any and all information shared with or provided to the federal government pursuant to CISA is exempt from disclosure under FOIA, including private information unrelated to a cybersecurity threat. Passing CISA would also give jurisdiction over FOIA to the most secretive committee in the Senate, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), which almost never holds public hearings and has never held one on this legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over FOIA, has never held hearings or had an opportunity to consider the justification for the new FOIA exemption. As our friends at posit, “allowing SSCI to write new exemptions to FOIA, without any public consideration or input from the Judiciary Committee, could set a dangerous precedent for further weakening the law at the intelligence community’s request.”

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important issue for U.S. industry, federal, and state governmental entities and AALL would strongly support a good-faith effort to improve information sharing for cybersecurity purposes. However, CISA is not that legislation. Write your Senators today to urge them to oppose CISA for the automatic and over-broad surveillance authorities and transparency-weakening provisions it would enable.

U.S. Copyright Office Belongs in the Library of Congress

July 24, 2015

By Emily Feltren

Last month, Representatives Tom Marino (R-Penn.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced a discussion draft of the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or CODE Act, which proposes to establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency outside of the Library of Congress (LC) and within the Executive Branch. AALL opposes the CODE Act, which we believe would weaken the Copyright Office and create barriers for the Library of Congress in building a comprehensive national collection.

The Copyright Office was first established within the Library of Congress 145 years ago, deliberately housed in LC because the location would contribute to building a comprehensive national library. The Copyright Office’s location within the Library also serves as an important reminder to all that the United States’ copyright system must benefit the public and not solely copyright owners. Since 1870, the Copyright Office has helped build a national collection through mandatory deposit, which has benefited not only LC, but also law libraries and members of the public who can turn to the Library of Congress to find copyrighted works that might otherwise be unknown and inaccessible. Unfortunately, the CODE Act removes the requirement of deposit, giving the Director of the Copyright Office the discretion to define what must be deposited.

While we agree with Reps. Marino and Chu that the Copyright Office must upgrade its technology for the digital age, we don’t believe that moving the Copyright Office out of LC is the solution. As an independent agency, the Copyright Office would simply give up its current challenges for new ones. For example, the Office would be responsible for funding its own capital investments, so additional appropriations would likely be needed. The Office would be required to set up a unique and complex technology infrastructure without the benefit of LC’s resources, which would require the Office to hire new staff and allocate significant resources to responsibilities outside of the core mission of the Office.

AALL believes that a new Librarian of Congress will be able to address many of the technology and other concerns raised in the recent Government Accountability Office report (GAO-15-338) and by the Copyright Office itself. An openness to collaboration and a commitment from both LC and the Copyright Office to work together to address the Copyright Office’s needs will lead to a better copyright system for all. AALL’s newly-updated Government Relations Policy makes our position clear: the Copyright Office “is well-served by its home in the Library of Congress.” Rather than trying to establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency, we urge Congress to appropriate adequate funding for the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress’ budget.

AALL agrees that the Copyright Office needs to transform itself for the 21st century. The CODE Act is not the answer.

July Washington E-Bulletin

July 1, 2015

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

Special Annual Meeting Edition
Vol. 2015, Issue 07





%d bloggers like this: