Category Archives: Laws and Legislation

Patriot Act

Congress passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) on October 25, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  This law greatly expanded federal law surveillance and investigative powers.   Of concern to public libraries are library records, including patron files and electronic communications.

 

The Mississippi Code addresses the confidentiality of library user records in §39-3-365.  MLC contacted the Office of the Attorney General for clarification and the following statement is excerpted from the original:

 

As your paperwork clearly reflects, there is no conflict between Section 39-3-365, and the USA Patriot Act.  Our state provision has in essence been expanded to require the release of the confidential records at issue when the library has been served with a search warrant.  The bottom line, all search warrants and court orders must be honored unless withdrawn by the court.

 

The wisest course of action is for library systems to be prepared to handle such an occurrence.  Proper procedures should be installed to handle this possibility.  These procedures should cover chain of command, notifications, etc.  Library systems must comply with legally issued subpoenas or warrants.   Library personnel should know the difference between the following two legal documents and act accordingly.

 

Warrant – a document directing or authorizing someone to do an act, especially an order for arrest, search or seizure.  A warrant is immediately executed.

 

Subpoena – to order the production of documents or other things.

 

The Office of Government Relations, part of the American Library Association’s Washington Office, is tasked with “a broad range of issues including, but not limited to: appropriations, copyright, library programs, government information, privacy, and telecommunications.” This oversight includes monitoring the USA PATRIOT Act on behalf of libraries across the country and making recommendations to protect privacy and confidentiality of library and patron records regardless of format.  Please see the 2016 Privacy/Surveillance/Cybersecurity Fact Sheet  for more information.

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires two things: 1) an Internet Safety Policy; and 2) the use of filtering software on Internet access.

 

 I.  Internet Safety Policy

You must have an Internet safety policy that covers everything, including new rules passed over the years. You can use the template on our website at http://mlc.lib.ms.us/technology-services/e-rate/ (under Links for Additional Information on E-Rate/Universal Services).

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If you have not already adopted an Internet safety policy, you must hold a public hearing during your next board meeting to discuss said policy.  There is not a requirement that members of the public have to actually show up or even speak. Properly advertise when your open meeting will be, and keep a copy of your proof of notice (photocopy of newspaper/printout of newspaper’s website). If you do not have records of having held such a meeting in the past,  you must hold a meeting following the guidelines set forth below.

The notice for this meeting goes beyond the normal public notice you have to do for your usual board meetings.  If you’re making your public hearing a part of your regularly scheduled board meeting, just an additional line is sufficient, like this:

“The regular meeting of the ______ Library Board of Trustees is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 11:00 a.m., in the 1st floor main meeting room. The meeting will include a public hearing to discuss proposed technology protection measures and the internet safety policy.”

Be sure to actually discuss the Internet safety policy during your advertised board meeting and make sure it is recorded in the minutes appropriately.   The actual formal discussion of the Internet Safety Policy and its adoption should appear on the board’s agenda.  Ensure that a formal motion and vote of acceptance are recorded accurately in your minutes.  Do not forget to approve these minutes at the subsequent board meeting.

Finally, save all of your documentation which includes:

  • your policy
  • the proof of notice
  • your board minutes discussing and approving the policy

Please share this documentation with Vivian Sanderford by emailing her at vivian@mlc.lib.ms.us.

 

II. Filtering Software

The second part of CIPA requires “specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access” to visual depictions of:

  • Child pornography
  • Obscenity
  • Materials harmful to minors (does not include violence or hate speech)

Filtering must be applied to all Internet accessible computers in the library.  If your library receives Internet access from AT&T and the statewide contract, then this service is already provided to your library.

Affordable Care Act

I. Affordable Care Act legislation and patron assistance

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. This requires U.S. citizens and legal residents to have qualifying health coverage. Mississippi public libraries may participate in MLC’s Health/Life Insurance Grant program if they meet the eligibility requirements.

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Eligible Mississippi public library employees that work full time (20 hours plus), have health insurance through the State of Mississippi. This plan is considered qualifying coverage according to ACA standards. Those employees working less than 20 hours will need to obtain qualifying health insurance independently, either through the Health Insurance Marketplace for Mississippi or a spouse/partner’s health insurance plan.

When handling library patron questions regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), treat them similarly to those you receive about filing taxes. We advise that you do not input personal data for patrons or provide advice on health plans when they are filing. UMMC has Certified Insurance Exchange Navigators who are able to help any citizen in Mississippi who is interested in obtaining insurance through the Exchange. Patrons will need an email address to file for insurance online through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

II. Library System Tax Forms

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has sent library systems notice regarding PPACA Report 6055.  This form will assist your system in filing the appropriate forms (1095C and 1094C) with the IRS concerning the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  MLC advises all library systems and independent public libraries, as political subdivisions in the State of Mississippi, to complete IRS forms 1095C and 1094C.

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Form 1094c is for “Applicable Large Employers,” which is defined as an employer that has at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year. While many library systems employ fewer than 50 full-time employees, your employees will need the information from the form to file their individual returns with the IRS. Filling out the form will ensure that both you and your employees have all the information needed for completion of tax returns.

The library system should take the information provided by BCBS and transfer each employee’s information to Form 1095C.  Two copies of Form 1095C must be created, one for the employee and one for the IRS.  The employee must receive their copy by January 31, 2016.  The IRS must receive its copy of Form 1095C for every employee and one Form 1094C for the entire library system by February 28, 2016. Additionally, the cost of employer health coverage will be reflected on the employee’s W-2 for 2015.

Questions about IRS forms should be directed to the IRS.  Likewise, questions about the BCBS form should go directly to the Membership Division of Blue Cross.

 

Resources

University of Mississippi Medical Center: https://www.ummchealth.com/healthplan/

Health Insurance Marketplace: http://www.healthcare.gov

Mississippi State Department of Health: http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/44,0,236,628.html