1970 July 20

ATF Agents No Longer Allowed to Snoop on Libraries


Secretary of the Treasury David Kennedy on this day issued a directive that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) agents would no longer be permitted to make general searches of libraries to obtain lists of books checked out by certain individuals. In Atlanta and Milwaukee, agents acting without warrants had requested the circulation records of persons who had checked out materials related to the construction of explosive devices.

Government snooping on library records returned in the 1980s with the FBI’s “Library Awareness Program” (September 18, 1987), and escalated even further after 9/11 (January 23, 2003).

Learn more: Herbert Foerstel, Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in Libraries (2004)


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