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Privacy vs. security
Many librarians bristle at notion of giving patrons' records to federal agents
Sunday, January 18, 2004
By Glen Leyden The Star
When Congress approved expansion of the government's authority to investigate citizens believed to be tied to terrorism,
it may not have realized it meant taking on a tough opponent: local librarians.
The USA PATRIOT Act, passed just 45 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, flew under the nation's radar for months
before complaints from librarians brought the question of security versus privacy to the forefront of national debate.
Librarians are most alarmed by the section of the law that gives investigators the authority to check private records,
including library records, without probable cause.
Civil rights advocates protested the act from its inception, maintaining it violates rights protected in the Constitution.
But the complaints did not gain nationwide attention until librarians joined the fight.
"You learn two things when you are in grade school: Never split an infinitive and never mess with the librarian," said
ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka. "This never really got on track until the librarians got involved." ...
Glen Leyden may be reached at (708) 633-6973
or via e-mail at email@example.com
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