Four librarians gagged and threatened with prison time under the Patriot Act
WINDSOR, CT — Using the broad powers granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI demanded that 4 librarians produce private information about library patrons’ reading habits, then used an endless gag order to force them to remain silent about the request for the rest of their lives under penalty of prison time.
In July 2005, two FBI agents came to the office of the Library Connection, located in Windsor, Connecticut. The Library Connection is a nonprofit co-op of library databases that arranges record-sharing between 27 different libraries. It facilitates book rental tracking and other services.
The FBI handed Library Connection’s executive director George Christian a document which demanded that he produce “any and all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person or entity” that had used library computers between 4:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on February 15, 2005, in any of the 27 libraries whose computer systems were managed by the Library Connection.
The FBI was demanding that the library hand over private data on library patrons en masse “to protect against international terrorism.”