Tag Archives: privacy

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.

Privacy Fiends?

Via Katharine, a Dom GSLIS student,

Librarians want to turn us all into privacy fiends

The ALA’s new campaign wants to 1) educate people, and then 2) turn them into activists. The education component of the three-year program will make people aware, for instance, that “checking out a biography of Osama Bin Laden could prompt seizure of their library records” or that “online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI.” The ALA also worries about provisions in the law that “gag” the people who are on the receiving end of government orders to turn over these records.

“Law enforcement agencies at every level are exploiting fears about terrorism and child safety to encourage lawmakers to strip away statutory privacy protections for library records,” says the ALA. “This eliminates anonymity in the library, and encourages the mind set that ‘good’ people should have nothing to hide.” But, as Cory Doctorow wittily points out in a talk he gave to the group last month, people have all sorts of behaviors for which they want “privacy,” even if these behaviors aren’t “secret.” When someone heads off to the bathroom, for instance, and closes the door, their behavior isn’t a “secret,” but it is “private.” And everyone’s parents engaged in at least one nonsecret but private activity to produce a child.

The librarians are well suited to mount such a campaign. By nature, they’re guardians of anonymity and free access to information, and they also have access to a huge variety of outlets for their message. US public libraries have more locations than McDonalds, and 62 percent of American adults hold library cards. That gives ALA members a natural place to educate the public about these issues and channel that education into public discourse and, hopefully, a new consensus on privacy and its importance.

Find out more here: http://privacyrevolution.org