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The ALA Annual 2014 Conference, held June 27-30 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, was a huge success. There were several highlights from the event, but one of the most exciting was hosting a special event entitled: "Privacy, Security and Secrecy: Mass Surveillance and the Snowden Leaks," featuring Tom Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archive.
For Blanton’s session, he discussed classified information which is a timely and relevant subject for librarians. His presentation stressed the importance of classified information, its history and its impact on society.
There are fine lines between privacy, security, and secrecy; however, without access to these classified documents that come out of libraries, how can these historical events be understood? For example: the Snowden leaks, recent revelations about mass surveillance by the government, and the public policy debate over where the lines are drawn. A ‘race to declassify’ information has begun as the public needs to know. These documented materials are pivotal in connecting the public to the library, Blanton stated, “Libraries are a fundamental force of good.”
This program also put these revelations into historical context, dating back to the beginning of mass surveillance. Blanton, who is one of the most engaging experts on classified information, provided fascinating guidance on what the next bombshells might be and how the government is responding. He quoted the new surveillance documents that will be published by ProQuest in the Digital National Security Archive resource, a curated collection of declassified documents outlining U.S. foreign policy since 1945.