crossposted from the ALA Washington Office
The FBI and its powerful backers in Congress have been pushing relentlessly for years for access to all of our electronic communications, even the ones we think we’ve protected. They want to require by law that any encryption technology and software we might use to protect our privacy be deliberately built to give all of law enforcement easy access to your otherwise secure phone calls, email, texts and other electronic communications. Cybersecurity experts around the globe repeatedly have said that such “back doors” can’t be secured and would be irresistible lures to spies and criminals of all kinds. Mandating them, the experts say, is a horrible idea. They’re right.
President Obama can end the immediate threat of Congress mandating “back doors” by making a single public statement opposing them. With a single mouse click, YOU can respectfully demand that he do exactly that by signing this “We the People” petition NOW.
“SaveCrypto.org,” a new national campaign to get hundreds of thousands of signatures on this petition, has just been co-launched by ALA and many other leading civil liberties organizations. Together, we can bolt the back door against intrusive government surveillance.
Please, add your name to the SaveCrypto petition to the President now . . . and pass it on!
Today, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom announced its sponsorship of “Let’s Encrypt,” a free, automated, and open certificate authority. “Let’s Encrypt” is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) and is run for the public’s benefit. It will allow anyone who owns a domain name – including libraries – to obtain a server certificate at zero cost, making it possible to encrypt data communications between servers and provide greater security for those using the internet for email, browsing, or other online tasks.
“As a technology librarian, I am so proud that the American Library Association is sponsoring the Let’s Encrypt campaign with other privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mozilla,” said Michael Robinson, chair of the ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee, and Head of Systems at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska – Anchorage. “Encrypting websites and services is an important step in protecting privacy in the digital age. The Let’s Encrypt campaign will make it easy for anyone to move their website to https. And it’s free! Even the smallest libraries will be able to take this step to protect the privacy of their patrons. ”
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, a Committee of Council, recommends policies, practices, and procedures as may be necessary to safeguard the rights of library users, libraries, and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights, as adopted by the ALA Council. The IFC Privacy Subcommittee monitors ongoing privacy developments in libraries, including technology, politics, legislation, and social trends and proposes actions to the IFC to meet the privacy needs of librarians and library users.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. OIF supports the work of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and its Privacy Subcommittee. For more information, visit www.ala.org/oif.
FTRF and ALA join amicus brief asserting readers’ First Amendment right to be free of NSA’s online surveillance
Crossposted from the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Blog
The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) and American Library Association (ALA) on Thursday joined with booksellers, international, and research librarians to file an amicus brief defending their ability – and the ability of similar organizations – to challenge on behalf of their users government actions that burden readers’ First Amendment rights. The amicus brief was filed in support of the plaintiffs in Wikimedia Foundation v. National Security Agency.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation and a broad coalition of educational, human rights, legal, and media organizations. It challenges the National Security Agency’s “Upstream” surveillance program. According to NSA, the “Upstream” surveillance program involves copying Internet traffic—including e-mails, chat, web browsing and other communications—as the data traverses the fiber optic backbone of the Internet.
This means that the NSA is looking over every reader’s shoulder while they’re online and compromising the privacy of every library user and bookstore patron who searches a library’s or bookseller’s online catalog, obtains an e-book, or consults online databases and journals for research, and deterring individuals from exercising their First Amendment right to obtain and read materials that are controversial or reflect deeply private concerns.
The amicus brief, written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of the library and bookseller organizations, explains the importance of privacy to the unfettered exercise of First Amendment rights and argues that libraries, booksellers, and similar organizations can assert the rights of their users related to privacy concerns associated with government access to, and surveillance of, users’ reading habits. It further emphasizes the chill on First Amendment rights that results when the government has unrestricted access to the records of what users read and view online.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides more information on their website, and the full brief can be read online at this link. The ACLU has full details about Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA on its website, linked here. Other parties in the brief include the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.