Legal Expert Explains Why Lack of Charges in Hobby Lobby Case is not as Bad as it Seems

Recently, on the ArtNet News site, Leila Amineddoleh, the art and cultural heritage lawyer who provided expert advice to the Eastern District of New York on the Hobby Lobby case, explained why the government made a good decision by not trying to seek criminal charges against Hobby Lobby or the company’s president, Steve Green, for their role in purchasing illegally-looted artifacts from Iraq. Aside from being the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green is also chair of the board of directors for a museum dedicated to the Bible, which is currently under construction. Hobby Lobby purchased the artifacts, including clay tablets and bullae, via middlemen in the United Arab Emirates for inclusion in the Museum of the Bible.

After an investigation by Federal officials, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a $3 million fine, relinquish the artifacts, and review their practices for acquiring cultural heritage objects in the future. According to Amineddoleh, there have been many who have lamented the fact that prosecutors opted not to file criminal charges. In a thoughtful piece for artnet, Amineddoleh explains the challenges faced by the Eastern District of New York if they were to have pursued criminal charges against Hobby Lobby. This is a great inside look at what law enforcement and the criminal justice system must consider in the quest to protect cultural heritage objects.

Archives Security in the Cyberage

SAA Security Section member Jim Havron pointed us to two recent articles about a facet of security that we don’t often think about, but could have massive implications for archives and special collections libraries – cybersecurity.

The first, from Security Week, notes that simply running out-of-date software puts a wide variety of firms, including archives and similar cultural heritage institutions, at risk of a data breach. And many of us, upwards of 50% according to the article, are running software that is not up-to-date. A simple fix of updating software is a great first step in securing your electronic assets.

Havron noted in his correspondence that more and more “non-computer” technologies are integrated into the internet of things and one must be aware of the fact that the unpatched software of fire alarms, electronic locks, and other security technology could render those items vulnerable to an attack. As he asked rhetorically, “does your institution have controlled access or fire alarms as part of its security?”

A second article, from info security, mentions the threat of ransomware attacks sent through e-mail. As Havron noted is his correspondence, “It isn’t just for ‘digital archivists’ or ‘electronic records’ anymore. Access points on the first Wannacry attack [the massive ransomware attack in May 2017 that infected over 230,000 computers] included security cameras, refrigerators, baby monitors, and thermostats. If you have any of these things (e.g. environmental controls), there is risk.”

When thinking about security at your institution, it isn’t only about keeping thieves from pilfering dog tags or returning old manuscripts to their rightful owner, it is also about protecting all of your electronic assets from the wide array of cyber threats that exist. If you have any specific questions for Jim Havron about cyber security in archives and cultural heritage institutions, feel free to e-mail him:

Historian Caught Stealing Dog Tags from National Archives

Historian Antonin DeHays was charged in Federal court this week with stealing dog tags of deceased WWII veterans from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. He sold many of the dog tags on eBay. He even passed off a stolen dog tag that belonged to a Tuskegee Airman as being from his personal collection and donated it to the Military Aviation Museum in exchange for a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire airplane.

Two weeks after DeHays visited the National Archives at College Park on May 12 this year, staff discovered that dozens of dog tags were missing from the box DeHays had looked at for nearly a half-hour earlier in the month. On June 9, investigators executed a search warrant at his home and found six dog tags along with other documents that belonged to the National Archives.

If convicted, DeHays faces up to ten years in prison for his crimes.

You can find the official U.S. Department of Justice press release about this case here and you can read more about this story from the Washington Post. For more about the NARA Archival Recovery Program, follow their Facebook page.

Security expert Steve Albrecht tackles “New Trends in Library Security” in recent ALA feature article.

In his article posted on 1 June 2017, security consultant and trainer Steve Albrecht discusses new challenges facing many libraries, including special collections.   Issues include vaping, religious rights questions, heroin overdoses and Narcan training, service animals, concealed weapons, and advice for updating codes of conduct.