The Campaign for Reader Privacy has received a letter from the Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Gerald Stuart Evans, confirming that the Justice Department will continue to respect protections for the privacy of bookstore and library records that may be targeted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The letter, received on August 31, was a response to a request sent earlier in 2016 by CRP asking that new Attorney General Loretta Lynch reaffirm the department's commitment to reader privacy that had been adopted by her predecessor, Eric Holder.
The policy in question was adopted in 2010 and prevents searches of the records of bookstore customers and library patrons who are not suspected of terrorism.
After a number of legislative measures that would have curtailed the ability of the government to look at bookstore and library records failed, Holder wrote to Sen. Pat Leahy (one of the government officials who had introduced a bill safeguarding reader privacy) to assure him the Justice Department would voluntarily provide a statement of “specific and articulable” facts to show that the target of a bookstore or library search was a suspected terrorist or someone in contact with the suspect. Holder also promised that the department would notify Congress if it became necessary to change its policy.
Members of the CRP are the ABA, ALA, AAP and PEN America.