4 thoughts on “FBI takes library computers without a warrant

  1. Commented on the Slashdot thread. A bit surprised to see library-related news make it over there, but given the context and speculation, not really.

  2. I looked at all the moralistic handwringing at Slashdot. Well, not all but a lot of it. In most states it is irrelevant as they have laws on the books requiring the police etc. to get a warrant before the library releases any information about patrons. The fact a statute exists removes the ethical conundrum. Even the most yellow-bellied, wormy unethical librarian has to obey the law. The library does not need to have a policy, only a copy of the state’s statutes.

    The ALA has compiled a page with links to each state’s statutes. Although the ALA url is too bizaare to post here, if you google library policy statutes, it will take you to the page.

    New York, where I work, has a pretty clear statute. Here it is:

    NY CLS CPLR sect. 4509

    sect. 4509. Library records

    Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.

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