(My last blog post on Google using librarians was well linked. To be sure, I did say that I would only write about law libraries and marketing, but I may have stumbled upon something else. So, if you liked/hated the Google post, try this out.)
Here are two recent press releases put out by ALA:
1) June 20th, 2008 – ALA Disappointed with House Passage of FISA – "The President of the American Library Association (ALA), Dr. Loriene Roy, expressed disappointment today with the result of the U.S. House of Representatives vote on FISA reform – the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6403). “There were far better versions of this bill that would more effectively protect our civil liberties from needless and illegal surveillance,” Dr. Roy said. “We have taken a woeful step backwards.”
2) June 28th, 2008 – American Library Association Receives $1 Million Grant from Verizon Foundation – "The American Library Association (ALA) will launch an innovative project to track and measure the impact of gaming on literacy skills and build a model for library gaming that can be deployed nationally. Funding for the project will be provided by a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation."
The new FISA Amendments are, among other things, a way for telecommunication companies (of which Verizon is one of the biggest in the world) to be lawfully allowed to hand over private data to the government without the fear of getting sued by citizens. It’s basically a free pass at giving away our private information without any legal repercussions. It’s a huge step backward for privacy rights and ALA is dead on in rallying and lobbying against it.
But then they accept a grant (I’m assuming that it was applied for and not just given to them) from the same huge telecom that is taking a big part in trying to get the new FISA amendments passed? Verizon would love to trade in private citizen data to the government if it meant they would be immune from multi-million dollar lawsuits (as any bigco would).
So, ALA has contradicted itself. While they continue to fight for privacy rights, they will just as easily take funds from the same company that they are trying to lobby against. Now, I won’t go so far as to say that this is a bribe, but there it is. What happens when ALA lobbies harder against FISA and Verizon’s role in it? This just doesn’t add up.
Of course, this grant is going towards something supposedly good (although, IMO, the jury is still out on gaming and literacy, but that’s not the point – I would have published this post if it went towards something I believed in), but does that make it right? I don’t believe it does.
Should ALA give the $1 Million dollars back? On one hand, it’s a slap in the face to Verizon, but on the other hand, it’s a slap in the face to all ALA members that believe in privacy…
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