Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Library Wins Battle Against Patriot Act Gag Order

Reuters reports on one library which is resisting the Patriot Act:

The government has backed down in at least one battle over the Patriot Act by dropping a gag order imposed on a library that refuses to reveal a reader’s borrowing habits.

The library, thought to be Connecticut, is resisting an FBI request to produce the records of one of its patrons because the agency refuses to identify the threat posed by the person.

The library sought to tell its story but was bound to secrecy under a former provision of the Patriot Act, which was dropped when Congress renewed the act this year.

The library’s bid to identify itself received a boost when the Justice Department wrote to a federal appeals court on March 29 explaining that “the FBI has determined that it will not oppose that request.”

The government had previously argued the FBI probe would be threatened if the name of the library was disclosed.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which announced the development on Wednesday, called it a victory in its campaign against what it considers a government intrusion of privacy.

“This calls into question every time the government has relied on national security to impose secrecy,” said ACLU lawyer Ann Beeson. “The only reason to gag our clients was to stifle their free speech rights in the debate over the Patriot Act. The government flip-flop confirms our suspicions.”


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