Essay Government Surveillance of Library Patrons

Essay Government Surveillance of Library Patrons

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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees citizens the right to secure their home, papers, persons and effects from “unreasonable search and seizures,” a phrase that is often analogous with a person’s right to privacy. Additionally, the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights prevents the government from creating laws which inhibit or prevent a citizen’s right to speech and the free expression thereof. While such rights and privileges are held in highest regard, even these rights can be abridged when the greater good is at stake. Many critics and civil libertarians declare that such an act took place with the passage of the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Supporting America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act signed into law on October 26, 2001, a mere forty-five days after the terrorists on New York City and Washington, D.C., that occurred in September of the same year. Although many normal citizens and patrons of libraries supported and accepted the extension of the government’s wiretapping and surveillance privileges that had been expanded by sections of the PATRIOT Act of 2001, few realized the expansive powers of the intelligence community would include the government-sanctioned surveillance and data mining of private conversations between or amongst innocent civilians like themselves. Most alarming to librarians and information scientists is Section 215, the so-called “Library Provisions” section. Even fewer Americans realize that the most of the measures within the PATRIOT Act were merely amendments to pre-existing laws (Marcovitz 2008). One of the amended provisions was the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) whose enactment occurred in 1978 after shocking ...


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...arians and the Patriot Act." Radical Teacher, 2006: 12-14.
Gonsalves, Chris. "No thanks for Patriot Act." eWeek, November 28, 2005: 32-32.
Marcovitz, Harold. Privacy Rights and The Patriot Act. Edina, Minnesota: ABDO Publishing Publishing Company, 2008.
Minow, Mary. "The USA PATRIOT Act." Library Journal 127, no. 16 (10 2002): 52-55.
Oatman, Eric. "Patriot Act Sparks New Debate." School Library Journal 51, no. 5 (May 2005): 16-16 p.1.
Ramasastry, Anita. "Why Are Librarians Mad About the Patriot Act?" Insights on Law and Society, Winter 2006: 11-25 4p.
Reid, Michele M. "The USA PATRIOT Act and academic libraries." College & Research Libraries News 70, no. 11 (December 2009): 646-650 5p.
Xhelili, Besar, and Emir Crowne. "Privacy & Terrorism Review Where Have We Come In 10 Years?" Journal of International Commercial Law & Technology 7, no. 2 (April 2012): 121-135 15p.


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