One-Way Signs on the Information Highway

The Washington Post had an article a few days ago that spells out in depth the extent to which National Security Letters – like the one used against a library consortium in Connecticut – are used routinely against law-abiding Americans: thirty thousand since the PATRIOT Act was enacted. Congress, according to the Chronicle, is finally noticing. But of course those served with NSLs can’t contribute to the debate – that’s against the law.

Meanwhile, Inside Higher Education is reporting a suit to prompt the honoring of FOIA requests to find out why visas are being denied to foreign scholars. Though the government wants us to trust them to rummage through our information at will, they’re awfully reluctant to comply with laws that let us get information from them.

To paraphrase the slogan often found on the walls of diners: “In God We Trust: All Others, Bring a Subpoena.” If you care about these things, take action. Because pretty soon it’ll be too late.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

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