Protect and Exercise your freedom to read

American Civil Liberties Union : Support the Freedom to Read! .

With the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the FBI gained the power to search your library and book-buying records without probable cause of any crime or intent to commit a crime. Furthermore, librarians and others who are required to turn over records are not allowed to say that the search has occurred or that records were given to the government.

This means that average Americans could have their privacy violated wholesale without justification or proper judicial oversight. Questions from Members of Congress to the Department of Justice about the use of this power have gone unanswered or have received a superficial response.

In response to these un-American and dangerous powers, Rep. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has proposed the “Freedom to Read Protection Act” (HR. 1157). This act would restrict the key provision of the USA PATRIOT Act — by exempting libraries and bookstores from the laws that allow the FBI to conduct these searches of personal records.

Take Action! Urge your Representatives to support the Freedom to Read Protection Act! [Privacy Digest]

Supporting the Freedom to Read Protection Act is a good idea but here’s something else you might want to think about doing as well. Radically diversify your reading choices. Order something at the opposite end of the political spectrum from your usual fare. Check out something at Loompanics or Paladin Press, or Create patterns in your data that don’t add up and can’t be categorized.

There are two desirable features to this strategy. First, if enough of us do it, we can overwhelm these silly systems with white noise in the data. Second, if we actually start to read and think about viewpoints that radically differ from our own, we might actually start to get smarter as individuals and as a society. There isn’t much point to protecting our freedom to read if we don’t bother to exercise it in the first place.