Larry Siems (PEN), 212-334-1660 ext. 105
Judith Platt (AAP), 202-220-4551
Bernadette Murphy (ALA), 202-628-8410 ext. 236
Washington, D.C., September 13, 2005—Petitions bearing over 200,000 signatures will be delivered today to Congressional leaders in the fight to restore the safeguards for reader privacy that were eliminated by the USA PATRIOT Act, the Campaign for Reader Privacy announced. The petitions will be presented to Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), author of the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), co-author of the Security and Freedom Enhancement Act (S. 737). They will also be given to Senators who have been chosen as conferees on the legislation re-authorizing the expiring sections of the PATRIOT Act. "We are proud to present these petitions to Congress on behalf of the hundred of bookstores and libraries around the country who participated enthusiastically in the reader privacy petition campaign," Avin Mark Domnitz, the chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association, said.
Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who heads the Association of American Publishers, stressed the significance of the petitions even this late in the legislative process, as a reminder to members of Congress that "Real people out there care deeply about their privacy and freedom to read."
"These petitions represent the broad grassroots support from the users and customers of libraries and bookstores across the country. The message is clear to Congress: Protect readers' privacy," said Lynne Bradley, Director of Government Relations for the American Library Association.
The Campaign for Reader Privacy is a joint initiative of the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers and PEN American Center. Launched in February 2004, the Campaign immediately began circulating petitions in bookstores, libraries and on its Web site, www.readerprivacy.org.
The Campaign for Reader Privacy is encouraged that the bills passed by the House and Senate re-authorizing the expiring sections of the PATRIOT Act include a number of the safeguards that it has been seeking for the past 19 months. While there are important protections in both bills, the Campaign strongly favors the Senate bill, S. 1389. S. 1389 restricts bookstore and library searches under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to the records of people who are suspected terrorists or people who are in contact with them.
The Campaign for Reader Privacy is urging its supporters to contact the Senate conferees to urge them to push for S. 1389. They are Arlen Specter (R-PA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Michael DeWine (R-OH), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Carl Levin (D-MI). The House conferees have not been chosen yet.