Responsible Adminstrator: Dean Library Services
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Privacy of library records is a central tenet of the profession as affirmed by the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics and upheld by state law (Florida Statue 257.261).
This principle is incorporated in the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-56), which President Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001. The act enhances and strengthens the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate criminal acts, particularly domestic acts of terror. In particular, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) lowers the standards for courts to approve surveillance of foreign intelligence gathering. For libraries, this eases the federal requirements for law enforcement to obtain warrants to search library records.
Rather than having to meet the historical standard of “probable cause,” the court need only be shown that the subject of the search is part of a terrorism investigation. The Act also allows for the issuing of an order which is valid anywhere in the US. FISA also expands the use of ‘roving wiretaps.” Taps are no longer confined to a particular line, but can rove wherever the target of the investigation goes. Also the tap can be applied to computers using the Internet.
A FISA issued search warrant will also contain a “gag order” prohibiting the person or the institution served with the warrant from disclosing that the materials pursuant to the warrant were produced or even that the warrant was served. Violation of this law carries a federal criminal penalty. This does not, however, change Library Services’ right to legal counsel about the search.
The USA PATRIOT Act allows for voluntary disclosure of electronic communications or records and amends the criminal code pertinent to voluntary disclosure of information by providers of electronic communication service.
It is the policy of Library Services to protect the confidentiality of library customers to the extent permitted under state and federal laws. Section 257.2b1, Florida Statutes, designates as confidential the registration and circulation records of public libraries in the State of Florida.
Florida Gulf Coast University Library Services University will comply with all lawfully issued court orders and subpoenas properly served upon them and furnish the documents and materials specifically listed in the court order or subpoena.
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