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Library cards: Does Big Brother know what you're reading?

by Alan Bisbort August 21, 2008

It sounds like the plot to a new Monty Python Broadway musical, "SPY-A LOT":
You are a librarian in a quiet town. One day a government spy—played by Eric Idle sporting a greasy moustache and doing his nod-nod-wink-wink routine—hands you a "secret letter" demanding your borrowers' records and computer files. You are not to discuss this with anyone, and you are not allowed to contest the demand in court. Just to be on the safe side, don't even make eye contact with the spy. Simply back away from the checkout counter and tiptoe, preferably cowering, toward the stacks. The spy will let you know when he's done. And when he's gone, you are to pretend none of this ever happened. Nod nod wink wink.

Essentially, this is what the Patriot Act allows the FBI to do now. They can issue "National Security Letters" (NSL) and, without court order, search any library file in America for any reason they deem appropriate. Since this is done in secret, with librarians facing prison time—after they're inevitably convicted in secret court—if they peep, we never know if the searches are for "national security" and not simply "dirty tricks." Given the performance of our government in the past eight years in regards to civil liberties and "dirty tricks," do we really want to give such powers away without a peep?

read on

This article by Alan Bisbort documents some of the fall out from the Patriot Act, south of the border. Tom and Andrea want to assure our patrons that we will not co-operate with any spying in the Centre of Criminology Library. Tom

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Anonymous said…
Nice blog

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