Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Librarians Versus the NSA

Under the Patriot Act, the government can demand library records via a secret court order and without probable cause that the information is related to a suspected terrorist plot. It can also block the librarian from revealing that request to anyone. Nor does the term “records” cover only the books you check out; it also includes search histories and hard drives from library computers. The Muslim-American who uses a library computer to correspond with family abroad, or the activist planning a demonstration against police brutality—those digital trails are vulnerable to surveillance, along with everyone else’s.

The government’s power to vacuum up our personal details seems unstoppable, but a lot of it depends on how much we give away. Alison Macrina wants librarians and library users to be less complicit.

More from The Nation.

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