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And if we are going to tell people, especially people who want to be in any form of public life, well, if you do, we are going to go all the way back and find out what you checked out at your public library, what you took out on videos or what you watch at night on television programs, then we are in a sorry state.
What a people's philosophy is, whether they are honest, whether they have integrity, those are valid questions for public office. Whether you want to watch a particular T.V. program or not isn't anybody else's business and this law is going to make sure that it stays nobody's else's business.
In 1986, I worked with the Chairman, with Congressman Kastenmeier, in landmark privacy legislation. That was the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. That protects communications from unlawful interception. We seem to be following along that line here. The Video and Library Privacy Protection Act would protect personally identifiable information from unlawful disclosure.
It prohibits the disclosure of library borrowing records and it will provide damages awards when information is unlawfully disclosed. I am encouraged by the bipartisan support for this, and, Mr. Chairman, again I can't compliment you enough for holding this hearing.
I am encouraged by the broad bipartisan support for the bill and will work hard for its enactment before the end of the Congress.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. We thank the distinguished Senator for his opening remarks and it is indeed an honor to chair this committee with him. Needless to say, I am an admirer of Pat Leahy and have worked with him on many things, as he pointed out, such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and many other pieces of legislation which have come to fruition.
I have long been concerned about the increasing number and types of intrusions into the privacy of American citizens-by both private individuals and the Government. Over the years, this subcommittee has held both legislative and oversight hearings on this issue, and as a result, we have helped lead the fight to curb these troublesome invasions of privacy.
The Senate bill and House bill are another critical step along the road to meeting a particular problem. These bills follow in the footsteps of other privacy legislation we have considered and the important 1977 report of the Privacy Commission. These bills are an effort to keep up to date with changing technology and changing social patterns with respect to the use of materials which ought to be clearly private.
In any event, I am hopeful that we will be able to move these bills forward. I think our goal should be in enactment this year if at all possible. I would think there would be widespread support for this form of initiative, and I am looking forward to these hearings.
[The statement of Mr. Kastenmeier follows:
THE HONORABLE ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER
VIDEO AND LIBRARY PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT OF 1988
AUGUST 3, 1988
TODAY I AM PLEASED THAT THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, CIVIL
TO HOLD A HEARING ON H.R. 4947 AND S. 2361, BILLS TO PROTECT THE
PRIVACY OF USERS OF VIDEO AND LIBRARY SERVICES.
I HAVE LONG BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCREASING NUMBER AND
HEARINGS ON THIS ISSUE, AND AS A RESULT, WE HAVE HELPED LEAD THE
OVER THE EXPANDING COMPUTERIZATION OF OUR SOCIETY, AND OVER THE
AND THEY ARE THE PREMISE OF THE LEGISLATION WE CONSIDER TODAY.
I AM ESPECIALLY PLEASED THAT IN OUR HEARING TODAY, WE ARE
JOINED BY THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN FROM VERMONT, SENATOR PAT
LEAHY, SINCE WE WORKED CLOSELY WITH HIM AND WITH HIS COLLEAGUES
IN ACHIEVING PASSAGE OF THE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS PRIVACY
ECPA WAS AN IMPORTANT STEP ALONG THE ROAD TO PROTECTING THE
PRIVACY OF OUR EVERYDAY LIVES.
H.R. 4947 IS ANOTHER CRITICAL STEP ALONG THAT ROAD, ONE THAT
I AM PLEASED TO CO-SPONSOR WITH OUR FIRST WITNESS TODAY, OUR
COLLEAGUE, REPRESENTATIVE AL MC CANDLESS.
H.R. 4947 FOLLOWS IN
THE FOOTSTEPS OF OTHER HISTORIC PRIVACY LEGISLATION AND OF THE
IMPORTANT 1977 REPORT OF THE PRIVACY COMMISSION, BY PROHIBITING
THE DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION WITHOUT THE INFORMED AND
VOLUNTARY CONSENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL INVOLVED.
WOULD BE DISCLOSABLE ONLY UNDER THE NARROWEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES,
SUCH AS WHEN A COURT ORDER IS ISSUED OR FOR APPROPRIATE BUSINESS
THE BILL PUTS TEETH INTO ITS MANDATE
AGGRIEVED INDIVIDUALS WITH A CIVIL REMEDY, SIMILAR TO THAT IN THE
CABLE ACT AND THE FEDERAL WIRETAP STATUTES.
THIRTY-EIGHT STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HAVE LAWS
LEGISLATION IS BEGINNING TO BE ENACTED TO PROTECT VIDEO VIEWERS.
BUT A STRONG, UNIFORM FEDERAL STANDARD IS CLEARLY NEEDED.
DESPITE THE LIBRARY LAWS, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ATTEMPTS TO OBTAIN
PATRONS' RECORDS, UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES THAT I THINK WOULD VIOLATE
STRONG STANDARDS OF ALL OF THE MAJOR LIBRARY ASSOCIATIONS IN THIS
NOW WE ARE STARTING TO HEAR ABOUT SIMILAR INTRUSIONS INTO
THE PRIVACY OF VIDEO USERS.
JUDGE BORK'S EXPERIENCE MAY BE THE
MOST PROMINENT, BUT THERE ARE ALSO REPORTS THAT VIDEO RECORDS ARE
BEING SOUGHT IN DIVORCE CASES, IN CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES, AND IN
THE VIDEO SOFTWARE DEALERS' ASSOCIATION
REPRSENTATIVE WILL INFORM US ABOUT THESE INCIDENTS, AND ABOUT
REFUSE DISCLOSURE UNDER
THEIR OWN CONFIDENTIALITY RULES AND, IN MOST CASES, EVEN WITHOUT
SPECIFIC PROTECTIVE LAWS.
I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT TOGETHER, THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND
THE FOURTH AMENDMENT PROTECT NOT ONLY THE FREEDOM TO READ, BUT
ALSO THE FREEDOM TO OBTAIN INFORMATION FROM WHATEVER SOURCE,
THEY PROTECT THIS FREEDOM FROM UNAUTHORIZED AND
IT IS APPROPRIATE, THEREFORE, THAT THIS LEGISLATION PROTECTS
GOVERNMENT AGENT, OR A REPORTER, OR ANYONE ELSE, WILL BE ABLE TO
STANDARD, THESE ABUSES WILL CONTINUE TO BE UNREGULATED.
NOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN.
I AM PLEASED THAT BOTH HOUSES OF
CONGRESS ARE MOVING JOINTLY AND IN A BIPARTISAN MANNER TOWARD
PASSAGE OF THIS LEGISLATION.
WE EXPECT TO MOVE IT EXPEDITIOUSLY,
AND WE EXPECT THAT IT WILL BECOME LAW BY THE END OF THE 100TH
SOME MAY SAY THAT THE INCREASING INVASION OF OUR
CITIZENS' PRIVACY MAY BE UNSTOPPABLE AND INEVITABLE, BOT SO WILL
BE THE EFFORTS OF THIS SUBCOMIITTEE, AND I BELIEVE THE CONGRESS
AS A WHOLE, TO CURB THAT INVASION.