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.

House Hearing on Electronic Records Preservation

February 25, 2008

On Tuesday, February 26, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Electronic Records Preservation at the White House.” The Committee, led by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), has been investigating what happened to millions of missing White House emails and what the White House is now doing to make sure it is preserving its records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.

The following witnesses are expected to testify:

-Alan R. Swendiman, Director, Office of Administration
-Theresa Payton, Chief Information Officer, Office of Administration
-The Honorable Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States
-Gary M. Stern, General Counsel, National Archives and Records Administration
-Sharon Fawcett, Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries

The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m., in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

AALL supports the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (H.R. 1255) to restore standards for the timely release of Presidential records and nullify President Bush’s Executive Order 13233. The bill is currently stalled in the Senate because of a hold placed on it by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). If you live in Alabama, we need to you to ask Sen. Sessions to lift his hold! Please see our Action Alert for more information.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Take Action! Calls and Letters Still Needed for the Presidential Records Act

January 31, 2008


On January 22, the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (H.R. 1255) was held up in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought H.R. 1255 to the floor under Unanimous Consent during the evening of January 22, which would have allowed the bill to quickly move through the Senate. Sen. Sessions objected without explanation. If you live in Alabama, we need to you to ask Sen. Sessions to lift his hold! We are also still encouraging you to write to your Senator to co-sponsor the bill. See below for more information.


The “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” would restore standards for the timely release of Presidential records and nullify Executive Order 13233, which President Bush issued in 2001. The Bush E.O. gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records. The legislation would reverse the Bush E.O. by establishing a deadline for the review of records, limiting the authority of former presidents to withhold records, requiring the president to make privilege claims personally, and eliminating the ability for Vice Presidents to assert executive privilege claims over vice presidential records. You can read more about the Presidential Records Act in our Issue Brief.


There are two things you can do to help this bill move through the Senate:

1. If your Senator is not a co-sponsor, send him or her an email to request he or she consider co-sponsoring to show support for the bill. S.886 cleared the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGA) this summer, but it is stalled in the Senate and Committee members need to hear from you. Only Committee Members Lieberman, Obama, and Sununu have signed on to co-sponsor. See a sample letter in our Action Alert. In addition, if your Senator is already a co-sponsor, send him or her a thank you note!

2. If you live in Alabama, write to Sen. Sessions to ask him to lift his hold. See a sample letter in our Action Alert.

If you prefer to call your Senator, may use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to call your Senator’s office. Tell the staffer you are a constituent, and either ask that your Senator sign on to co-sponsor the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” or thank your Senator for co-sponsoring.

If you hear back from your Senator, please let us know! You may send a copy of his or her response or just send me a note.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

%d bloggers like this: