The Impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on Free Expression

Nancy Kranich
If libraries are to continue to flourish as centers for uninhibited access to information, librarians must oppose the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that inhibit free expression and stand behind their users' right to privacy and freedom of inquiry. Just as people who borrow murder mysteries are unlikely to be murderers, so those seeking information about Osama bin Laden are not likely to be terrorists. Assuming a sinister motive based on library users' reading choices makes no sense and
more » ... s no sense and leads to fishing expeditions that both waste precious law enforcement resources and have the potential to chill Americans' inquiry into current events and public affairs. The millions of American who sought information from their libraries in the wake of September 11 reaffirm an enduring truth: a free and open society needs libraries more than ever. Americans depend on libraries to promote the free flow of information for individuals, institutions, and communities, especially in uncertain times. In the words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."
doi:10.7282/t3sx6h92 fatcat:ifzpmfxf3nca5fywxovzto5xh4