Michael Casey on Privacy and Failure

When a library customer comes into our building and makes use of our resources and services, we extend to that user a shield of privacy so long as they agree not to violate our policies or the law. The protective shield of privacy can only be pierced when the individual violates the contract regarding use. If we, the library, witness the violation then it is incumbent upon us to take proper and appropriate action. However, if an outside agency, such as the FBI, comes to us and claims that a law was broken and that we need to turn over anything that could connect our library users with information they sought within our building or while using our services then we need to require that a minimum threshold is met — namely, the production of a warrant. 

Frederick County Public Library, in my opinion, failed this test.

Batson said that “it was a decision I made on my experience and the information given to me.”  A library director would never accept this excuse from his staff. 

Library administrators spend a great deal of time training and reminding staff that under no circumstances should they acquiesce to uniformed intimidation and turn over library records or anything that could identify information seekers and the information they sought to law enforcement without a proper warrant. Library use — information both sought and retrieved — is private data that should never be subject to search and seizure without proper judicial oversight.

Read the whole post here.

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