The Campaign for Reader Privacy has issued a press release stating that organizations representing booksellers, librarians, publishers, and writers have launched the latest phase in a five-year campaign to restore reader privacy safeguards that were stripped away by the USA Patriot Act. Over the past 5 years the Department of Justice has used its expanded power under the Patriot Act to issue more than 200 secret search orders under Section 215 and more than 190,000 National Security Letters (NSLs). The FBI can search any records it believes are “relevant” to a terrorism investigation, including the records of people who are not suspected of criminal conduct.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. However, congressmen have introduced H.R. 1467, the Safe and Secure America Act of 2009 extending it and two other Patriot Act provisions for another 10 years. FBI Director Robert Mueller recently called on Congress to extend the three expiring provisions.
According to the press release, the Campaign for Reader Privacy does not oppose the extension of Section 215, per se, but seeks to exempt bookstore and library records from its provisions. Without Section 215, the government would be required to seek a grand jury subpoena for such records.