The first amendment guarantees freedom of expression, but that’s not worth much if you don’t have a corresponding right to read, listen, and watch whomever’s expressions you want. This is why librarians have long been jealous guardians of their patrons’ privacy: Monitoring people’s reading habits is the first step towards circumscribing, or even censoring, specific works. People won’t use the library if they think the FBI might come knocking as soon as they read a book about Islam, for instance.
The cynically misnamed PATRIOT Act undercuts this right by giving the FBI permission to tap into library records, at will and in secret, without letting anyone know that they’re doing so. Now Rep. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has introduced a “Freedom to Read” bill that would restore privacy to the patrons of bookstores and libraries. The ACLU supports it, and you should too.