FBI looks at your reading habits

Tuesday, June 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The FBI is taking the search for terrorists to your local library. They're checking up on what suspects are checking out.

News on Six anchor Scott Thompson explains whether or not someone could be reading over your shoulder. FBI agents are visiting the nation's libraries and investigating the reading records of people with possible terrorist ties.

Tulsa Central library officials say the FBI hasn’t contacted them. But according to the new Patriot Act, if they had, they might not be able to tell us.

The Patriot Act passed by Congress last October gives the FBI access to what you check out. And it also prevents librarians from speaking about these investigations. The new law gives the government the broadest access to records since the 1970s. But the FBI cannot check just anyone's reading habits. They have to prove that a suspect is involved with terrorists or a terrorist plot and they do have to get a search warrant.

Some libraries around the country say the new law is an invasion of privacy, but local officials say national security comes first. Richard Parker, Central Library Assistant Director, “If there's anyway that the library can help prevent terrorist acts then that’s our top priority and keeping records sealed, so to speak, takes second."