Visitors to Critical Pages typically enjoy libraries and book stores. So we should warn you that our Congress recently voted to allow the government to search bookstore and library records of people who are not suspected of criminal acts or terrorism.
Neither the House nor the Senate spent much time considering amendments to the Patriot reauthorization bill, and it passed both chambers handily.
Naturally, writers as well as readers are concerned about this. PEN American Center is comprised of 3,400 Professional Members who represent the most distinguished writers, translators, and editors in the United States. And PEN had this to say: “Reader privacy advocates take some comfort from Attorney General Eric Holder’s promise in December that the FBI will not use the full power of the Patriot Act to search bookstore and library records. The Patriot Act gives the government the right to secretly search the records of anyone who is “relevant” to a terrorism investigation. However, in a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Holder promised the government would voluntarily restrict its searches of bookstores and libraries to the records of people who are actually suspected of terrorism and people who are known to them.
The Campaign for Reader Privacy was organized in 2004 by the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center. Its goal is to ensure that Americans can purchase and borrow books without fear that the government is reading over their shoulder. For more information, visit www.readerprivacy.org”