AAN Joins ACLU Letter Opposing Renewal of USA Patriot Act Section 215

AAN was one of 52 media companies and organizations to sign a letter drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union in opposition to a rubber-stamp renewal of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. The straightforward letter sent by organizations with missions ranging from privacy to human rights to journalism to civil rights to government simply requests that Congress not pass legislation currently moving through the Senate (S 1035) which extends the USA Patriot Act before the law is set to sunset. Note that the letter expressly does not take a position on the USA Patriot Act as a whole; it simply says that Congress should not extend in another blanket extension of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

Section 215, of course, is the much criticized section which allows the government to engage in bulk surveillance of various businesses, including many that have enjoyed significant First Amendment protection, such as libraries, bookstores, video stores and news media. It is the section that allows the surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden but, more to our particular interests, it is the section used by the government to press for and justify its access to records of the AP and other media entities (all of which were done in secret).

Media organizations and companies have opposed Section 215 since the original USA Patriot Act was introduced and who sought a narrowing of this portion of the law. That’s really all we’re asking for here – for Congress to take a closer look at that particular section rather than simply renewing it for another 5 years.

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