The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) is trying to raise awareness amongst politicians and the media about the threat to Libraries posed by the controversial Terrorism Bill 2005
"The Terrorism Bill had its second reading on Wednesday 26 October 2005 and contains clauses (2 and 3) which are likely to be problematic for libraries and information services in all sectors. They cover the dissemination of terrorist publications, and in view of the wide and uncertain definition of what may constitute a terrorist publication, librarians and their governing bodies/institutions would be at risk of prosecution as the clauses currently stand. Lord Carlile, in his capacity as independent reviewer of anti-terrorist legislation, has expressed a concern about the potential for these clauses to criminalise academic and parliamentary research and serious journalism: his remarks may be said to apply equally to libraries and information services following their normal lawful business. Concern has also been raised about clause 17, defining offences abroad, which puts on an equal footing, for the purposes of the Bill, things done in the UK and the same things done at (say) a university campus in overseas country"
This follows on from a legal opinion by a barrister,James Eadie from Blackstone Chambers, who lays out some of the existing police and security agency legal powers to snoop on Libraries and on their staff and users.
In the USA, Libarary and Information professionals have been challenging the slightly less draconian so called PATRIOT Act, which also allows the US authorities similar Federal snooping power for terroisism related investigations.
How many Librarrians will be accused of "disseminating" terrorist material or publications ? How many will be accused of indirectly assisting in the "training" of terrorists in the handling of "noxious substances" ?
Home Secretary Charles Clarke seems to think that his proposed controversial ID Card scheme will be used when renting a videos, so perhaps users of commercial video libraries also need to worry as much as the public or academic libraries about being snooped on.
Even if, as we expect, virtually no actual terrorists will be caught by this Bill. it will have a chilling effect on the free operation of Libraries etc., which means that the NuLabour Government, will, again, have handed the terrorists a propaganda victory.
Will any UK DIgital Rights Groups like the The Open Rights Group help to campaign with the Library and Information Professionals ?