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FTRF and ALA join amicus brief asserting readers’ First Amendment right to be free of NSA’s online surveillance

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 4, 2015

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) and American Library Association (ALA) on Thursday joined with booksellers, international librarians, 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 the lawsuit  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 shoulders while they're online, 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 amici on the brief include the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. 

 

 

 

Tags:  1st Amendment  ALA  amicus brief  internet  NSA  surveillance 

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Read conference reports from Conable Scholar Mack Freeman & President Julius Jefferson

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Monday, July 21, 2014
The 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas was successful by nearly all measures (although we can't say for sure whether that extended to the tables). We're pleased to share with you two reports connected with the Freedom to Read Foundation:

Click here to read FTRF President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.'s report to the ALA Council. Included is information about our litigation efforts, developing issues that could turn into future litigation, and the status of FTRF's various programs.

Click here to read John "Mack" Freeman's report as recipient of the Conable Conference Scholarship.

From a staff perspective, it was a real pleasure meeting and getting to know Mack. It was great to be able to introduce him to past Conable Scholars as well! Please let any new librarians or library school students know about this opportunity when it presents itself again early next year. We've got a great group going!

Tags:  ALA  Annual Conference  John Mack Freeman  Julius Jefferson 

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ALA Council passes resolutions in memory of Forsman, Shank

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Tuesday, July 9, 2013

During the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago last week, the American Library Association Council passed two memorial resolutions commemorating FTRF Roll of Honor winners, Carolyn Forsman and Russell Shank:

MEMORIAL RESOLUTION HONORING CAROLYN FORSMAN 

Whereas the American Library Association (ALA) and the Freedom to Read Foundation lost a valued member and leader on January 19, 2013; and

Whereas Carolyn Forsman was a tireless and outspoken advocate of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read and received the Freedom to Read Foundation 2001 Roll of Honor Award; and

Whereas she was in the first class of doctoral students in library science at the University of Maryland, 1969-72; and

Whereas she served as a librarian at Vallejo Public Library and the Washington, DC Public Library; and

Whereas her excellent visualization skills and creative instinct led to jewelry that "spins, sparkles, flips, flashes, glows, winks, snaps & slinks” and an ALA booth that was a true pioneer of "maker space”; and 

Whereas she used her creativity to establish an ALA Exhibits booth to sell her jewelry and donate the proceeds to the Freedom to Read Foundation: now, therefore, be it 

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members: 

  1. recognizes the significant contributions of Carolyn Forsman to the cause of intellectual freedom and librarianship; and 
  2. extends its sincerest condolences to her friends and family.


A MEMORIAL RESOLUTION HONORING RUSSELL SHANK 

Whereas the American Library Association (ALA) and the Freedom toRead Foundation lost a renowned member and leader on June 26, 2012 with the death of Russell Shank; and

Whereas Russell Shank served from 1967 to 1977 as the Smithsonian Institution’s first-ever director of libraries; and

Whereas he served as the first-ever vice chancellor for library and information services and planning, and in other leadership positions, at the UCLA Libraries from 1977-1989; and

Whereas he served as the President of the American Library Association from 1978-79, during which time he joined ALA’s Council in supporting the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment; and

Whereas he was a staunch defender of intellectual freedom and received the Freedom to Read Roll of Honor in 1990; and 

Whereas he was an extremely kind, sensitive person and in spite of his health challenges, never lost his sense of humor: now, therefore, be it 

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:

  1. Recognizes the significant contributions of Russell Shank over the course of his distinguished career and mourns his death; and         
  2. Extends its sincerest condolences to his friends and family.

Tags:  ALA  Annual Conference  Carolyn Forsman  Roll of Honor  Russell Shank 

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FTRF Report to Council at #ALA2013 now posted

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Monday, July 1, 2013

This morning, outgoing FTRF president Candy Morgan will be presenting her oral report to ALA Council.  We've just posted the written document on our Council Reports page.

Our thanks to Candy for her many years of exemplary service, and look forward to her continued involvement as a member-leader!  And welcome to new president Julius Jefferson and the rest of the 2013-2014 Board!

Tags:  ALA  Candace Morgan  Report to Council 

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