Resolution on Telecommunications and the National Information Infrastructure

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Adopted by the AALL Executive Board, July 14, 1995

WHEREAS, the Congress and the Administration are developing and considering legislation and policy initiatives on communication services and systems, including telephones, cable television, public utilities, and digital communications; and

WHEREAS, these initiatives along with the rapid evolution of digital communication technology will greatly affect citizen access to the National Information Infrastructure (NII), especially in cases where federal, state and local government agencies are providing essential public government information, collected and maintained at taxpayer expense, in electronic formats only; and

WHEREAS, in order to serve the public interest and promote broad public access to the NII, methods must be developed to fund the development of the nation's communications infrastructure ensuring that libraries, schools, universities and health care facilities will have access at affordable rates for all basic communications and information services; and

WHEREAS, fair and equal access to the NII for all citizens, regardless of geographic area or income, must be guaranteed; and

WHEREAS, the public's right of privacy must be ensured by limiting to the minimum necessary, personal data collected to provide specific services; by not sharing data collected from individuals without their informed consent; by allowing individuals the right to inspect and correct data files about themselves; and by keeping transaction data confidential; and

WHEREAS, broad public access to the NII must be balanced with the legitimate interests of creators and authors to control and receive compensation for the use of their intellectual property; and

WHEREAS, the NII must evolve as an easily accessed, open data and non-proprietary network architecture with standard specifications to ensure interoperability between multiple networked systems and providers; and

WHEREAS, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), a nonprofit organization of over five thousand information professionals who serve the information needs of lawyers and judges, law students and faculty, legislators and public officials at all levels of government, members of the business community and the general public, has long advocated broad public access to all forms of government and legal information; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that affordable rates be made available for schools, libraries, and universities, all of which serve the public good, guarantee equal access, and provide necessary training and assistance, as well as for health care facilities; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Association of Law Libraries urge Congress and the Administration to protect and advance broad public access to government and legal electronic information by mandating no or low-cost access regardless of geographic area for all citizens; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the development of the NII must consider the protection of privacy, security, freedom of speech and association, freedom from discrimination and intellectual property rights in the context of the public interest; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the right of fair use and the non-copyrightable nature of government information, paid for by taxpayers, be maintained in the electronic environment; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the NII must be developed within an open environment framework as a system of interconnections available at no or low cost to ensure broad public access to federal, state and local government and legal electronic information; and be it further

RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the appropriate Congressional committees and to the President of the United States.