June 27, 2006
DOJ Drops Demand for Library Records
The FBI is no longer seeking library records from the Library Connection, Inc. of Windsor, thus ending this disturbing chapter of attempting to use national security letters under the USA Patriot Act to invade patron privacy. The library group had maintained that the requested records would have been released if the FBI had obtained a search warrant issued by a judge, a course of action the Justice Department argued was unnecessary under the original USA Patriot Act.
In yesterday's press release announcing this development, Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU stated
First the government abandoned the gag order that would have silenced four librarians for the rest of their lives, and now they've abandoned their demand for library records entirely. While the government's real motives in this case have been questionable from the beginning, their decision to back down is a victory not just for librarians but for all Americans who value their privacy.
Library Connection has now released the NSL letter via the ACLU site. The letter shows that the FBI was seeking all records associated with one computer for a 45 minute time period during one day. In dueling press releases, the FBI explained that although its investigation was "less efficient" because Library Connection refused to comply with the NSL,"the FBI was able to investigate and over time, discount the threat that was transmitted over this computer that was part of the Library Connection’s network."
File under "Privacy trumps inconvenience." [JH]
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