American Library Association's privacy initiative: white-paper, survey, video

Last month I went to LA for the American Library Association conference, and sat on a panel called "Privacy: Is it time for a revolution," with Dan Roth from Wired and Beth Givens from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The panel was put on by the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom as part of a larger project that is rallying librarians and their patrons to fight for privacy in libraries and in society at large. It was a really good panel (librarians are the best conceivable audience for this kind of thing) and the organizers have posted video of the speakers -- but more importantly, they've put up the ALA Privacy Initiative Concept Paper "Rallying Americans for the Right to Information Privacy" and a survey on privacy practices. Link, Link to white paper


  1. White papers are important and panels are excellent (it be nice if they were publicized beyond the converted however), but what about planting one’s feet on the ground, like, maybe LA Public Library might want to make a Facebook group, before walled gardens and basic groups on FB req. an “advertising”, ur, I mean, posting sur-charge.

    I’ll join if someone sexy librarian starts the group….

  2. Oh, librarians are great for this kind of thing. I think they take a secret oath to defend freedom of information and resist censorship when they get their MLS (I guess now it’s an MLIS), because they organize. I believe they would take up arms if it came to it. My mother is a librarian and I have never seen her so angry as when she found out the government could demand to see her borrowers’ records under the Patriot Act. (Except for the time the neighboring county’s school system decided to use the ALA Banned Books List as a checklist for which books to ban from their library. I think she was angrier then.)

    Lewis Haidt @1, the white paper and panel are hereby publicized, and you can link to them among whatever unconverted you’d like. That’s the brilliance of the internet. Also, was the “sexy librarian” remark really necessary?

  3. @Crln, d thnk th “sxy” lbrrn fld ttmpt t hmr nd srcsm s bsltly ndd.

    prsd yr VB cmmnt. Prsnlly, hmr, srcsm nd lttl flppnt ply sms lk gd wy t tn dwn th vlm nd gt ” sns f prspctv.”

    ls, lkd yr trm “drmtc flnc” — dfntly nt wht wld sy t sxy lbrrn….

  4. Really excellent. Cory, you gave voice to a lot of things I was only peripherally aware of (private vs. secret). Watched it tiwce & made me want to sign up to post a thank you.

    @#1: discussion/consideration before action = wise action. I think participation in this panels like this is a necessary step towards taking actions like what you’re suggesting… which may not be as effective a toe-hold as you imagine. and why wait for someone else to start it? be that sexy librarian.

  5. I appreciate what’s being said here, but it’s being said TERRIBLY. Seriously, this guy is a horrible speaker. I know that BoingBoing has better things to do, but you’re telling me no one can find a transcript? Something I can read at work? Why are people so in love with video? It’s slow. It’s uninteresting to watch. It’s usually blocked by big brother proxies. Also, if anything you have to say needs a laugh track, you aren’t captivating.

  6. One thing that is not talked about much is the use of data mining and analysis. My institution is going towards gmail as I peck this post out. Student privacy is of no concern to the administration because, as Cory points out in this excellent talk, it’s packaged with the ole… ‘the kids do not care’ notion.
    I hear it all the time, that “they are posting all sorts of stuff about themselves, why should we care?” Certainly, posting about your latest break up, binge, or fetish is done arguably by choice. What I do not think folks are aware of is that we are also subjected to text, “click” and related analysis. I wonder how many behavioral psychologists etc. google has on staff? How much will Google or MSN be able to discern about me just from what I click and how I write? Am I insurable? Am I a good loan candidate? Job candidate? What happens if/when my other data, health info, financial, work history etc can be correlated?
    Certainly lots of this stuff is in its infancy, but there will be googles (sorry) of data to crunch once the technology improves and our apathy is absolute.

    My employer will soon force me to use gmail as well, and I will be subjected to the scrutiny of Google’s logic engines, like it or not. In a recent meeting I actually had someone say to me… “well, we are employees here” subtext: “don’t like it? there’s the door, gtfo!” It IS a civil rights issue, I should not have to surrender my privacy to participate in society, but it is becoming harder and harder to do so.

  7. I can big THAT up! I Also think more can be done to include ‘street lingo’ into expansive political debate.

  8. Compelling talk – however, London Transport didn’t raise the price of paper tickets and claim that the Oyster Card was a discount while charging the same as always. The single and return tickets were abolished completely, with travel cards the only paper ticket option left (so even if you only travelled one station along the line, you would be paying enough to get you half a dozen stations further). The Oyster was a cheaper option – in my own experience, getting to Central London was more than £2 less expensive, and still is. The cards also contain no personal information about the user (except where the user travels to and from) unless you register your details with London Transport (and if you don’t want anyone finding out where you come and go, the card can be returned to the seller, and the money used to buy the card returned). Other than this, your talk was fascinating.

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