A little-remarked feature of pending legislation on domestic surveillance has provoked alarm among university and public librarians who say it could allow federal intelligence-gathering on library patrons without sufficient court oversight.
Draft House and Senate bills would allow the government to compel any “communications service provider” to provide access to e-mails and other electronic information within the United States as part of federal surveillance of non-U.S. citizens outside the country. The Justice Department has previously said that “providers” may include libraries, causing three major university and library groups to worry that the governments ability to monitor people targeted for surveillance without a warrant would chill students and faculty members online research activities….
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