Citizen's Action Alert: Madison Locals, Protect Your First Amendment Rights!

Dear Room supporter,

I wanted to let you know about changes Alder Mike Verveer is proposing to an ordinance for secondhand retailers including bookstores and used CD stores that buy used audio tapes, compact discs, videotapes and other digital video discs (video games, etc) from the public. The changes would require stores to electronically submit a report to the police each day of all purchases of these items by stores. This electronic report will require stores to include very specific personal information about the sellers such as: their date of birth, sex, height, weight, race, color of eyes and hair, and the number on whatever form of identification the person presented, such as driver’s license number of passport number.

 

This data must be maintained for one year at the store but there is no time limit on how long the police will hold this information. There are no limitations on how the police may use this information or with whom it may be shared.

 

Losing First Amendment rights to privacy and free expression when individuals sell music, books on tape, and films they have purchased will have a chilling effect on the purchase of these items. Some people can afford to buy these items only if they can resell them. The database created by the police will be one more database the government can use to mine information on people without any oversight.

The ordinance change was introduced at the Public Safely committee on Thursday September 14 without any public input except for a meeting two years ago when I, and representatives of a few other stores, spoke against it. We thought it was not going anywhere until I saw a notice about it in the WSJ on Saturday. It passed the committee last night and will go to the City Council next Tuesday night. September 20th.

There has not been public discussion on whether we, as a community, want the police to hold records of the reading (books on tape and CD), listening and viewing choices of our citizens. An Alder of the committee said at Thursday’s meeting “we should all be used to being treated like criminals.” I hope this is not true in Madison. I hope I can still shelve Orwell’s novel 1984 in “fiction” after the next week’s City Council meeting.

If you have any way of letting others know about this, please do. You can find the link to the law here: http://legistar.cityofmadison.com/attachments/66b87daf-4c62-42ef-9c2e-6c0889486c2a.pdf

PLEASE WRITE, E-MAIL AND CALL YOUR ALDERPERSON (Find your Alderperson here) AND ASK HIM OR HER TO OPPOSE THIS CHANGE AS CURRENTLY WRITTEN AND COME TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON TUES. SEPT. 20 AT 6PM. TO SPEAK FOR YOUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. (ITEM #75 ON THE CURRENT POSTED AGENDA)

Sandi Torkildson