Ashcroft, Under Pressure, Tweaks ‘Patriot Act’ Library Data Secrecy

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Under pressure from lawmakers and civil rights groups over the Justice Department’s antiterrorism initiatives, Attorney General John Ashcroft reversed course Wednesday and agreed to declassify data showing how often federal agents had demanded records from libraries and other institutions, reports the New York Times.

Civil rights advocates said the decision, which Ashcroft disclosed in a telephone call to the president of the nation’s biggest library association, was a significant victory in their efforts to lift the secrecy surrounding the antiterrorism legislation known as the USA Patriot Act, the Times says.

The Associated Press reports the Act’s highly contentious provision giving the FBI access to library book-borrowing records has never been used.


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