Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

I'll be writing my legislators about this in the morning. According to a New York Times Editorial a proposed piece of legislation will make it illegal for someone to circulate any
"in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”
This law will effect librarians. As Geoffry R. Stone writes further down"it would plainly violate the First Amendment to punish anyone who might publish or otherwise circulate the information after it has been leaked." So, any library which provide information that's already public, or any librarian who directs a patron to find say a Wikileaks cable will effectively have violated federal law. While in all likelihood such a law wouldn't stand a constitutional test given recent supreme court rulings, it could cause a chilling effect.

The information published by organizations like wikileaks all ready enjoys a marginalized and tenuous existence. Yet, that information can be some of the most important information to scholars, policy makers, and the general public. We should be taking steps to protect it. Regardless of our institutional reaction to curating such documents, librarians must protect our rights to disseminate such information. If we falter here its a short road to the letting the government in our stacks to tell us what we can and can't let patrons read.

1 comment:

  1. It is always good to be aware of these proposed pieces of legislation. Isn't it great that librarians have the ability to find this information and be aware of it before it could cause trouble (for us, them, everyone)?? :-) I mean this type of stuff happens all the time and it is essential that we stay on top of it.
    Thanks for sharing.