January 27, 2022

ARL Joins Coalition in Urging US Attorney General to Release Reports on Telephone Surveillance

From the Association of Research Libraries (ARL):

Yesterday ARL, along with 22 other good-government groups [including ALA], sent a letter (PDF) to the US Department of Justice urging Attorney General Eric Holder to make public any reports by Inspector General Michael Horowitz regarding the collection of Americans’ telephone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. If the Office of the Inspector General has not previously conducted a full review of this program, the letter asks it to do so.

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for an order requiring the production of any tangible thing that is relevant to an authorized investigation to collect foreign intelligence or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Serious questions have been raised by lawmakers and legal experts about whether the recently revealed program, under which telephone companies are ordered to produce all of the telephony metadata for all of their subscribers, is consistent with the purpose or even the letter of Section 215.

The Inspector General has previously reviewed and reported on the FBI’s activities under Section 215. Any discussion of the telephone surveillance program, however, was redacted from public reports because the program was classified. Now that the government has declassified the existence of the program and many details about it, there is no longer any justification for withholding the Inspector General’s conclusions from the public.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.