Voices For Privacy Blog

Vitamin P: Why Privacy is Good for You (And Good for Society, Too)

May 27, 2020 | By OIF staff

By Alexandria Chisholm and Sarah Hartman-Caverly

Example of a wellness wheel.Each of us has a wellness routine – habits we adopt to maintain physical health and a broader sense of well-being. Perhaps you are familiar with the wellness wheel, a framework for visualizing various dimensions of wellness, such as physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, financial, professional, and environmental.

Have you ever thought about privacy in the context of wellness?

When we do think about privacy, we often associate it with keeping information about us secret and protected. Privacy may prevent unwanted consequences, such as identity and credit fraud, online bullying, or professional embarrassment.

But privacy is also good for you. Having time and space to be free from outside interference sustains your sense of individual identity. Being alone with your thoughts allows you to seek new information, experiment with new ideas, and form new beliefs in accordance with your own conscience. Having physical space away from prying eyes also allows you to perform activities unobserved and without inhibition or fear of judgement.  Privacy cultivates creativity, too, and is part of the process of exercising intellectual property rights like copyright or Creative Commons licensing.

Privacy is also about having some say in how much access other people have to you, to ensure that the right people know the right things about you at the right time. This enables us to participate in a range of different relationships, and fulfill a variety of social roles. For example, think about your best friend, significant other, and a close family member – these three people will know largely overlapping, and yet distinct, bodies of information about you. Protecting personal information, then, is really a proxy for protecting these different facets of your sense of self.  Exercising the choice as to what you share, when, and with whom is the foundation of privacy and intimacy.

In its broadest sense, privacy also allows us to gather together. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but many parts of society, including families, civic organizations, political parties, social clubs, faith-based communities, business entities, and even sports teams, exist in part because they are able to distinguish between members and non-members. This associational privacy is intrinsic to our social fabric, as is our ability to carve out spaces, and parts of ourselves, that are beyond the reach of government, corporations, and the general public. (more…)

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Calling Users in a Pandemic: Best Practices to Protect Privacy

May 19, 2020 | By OIF staff

As so much of life has been ‘closed down’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many libraries have begun to reach out to their users directly over the phone. These calls, sometimes referred to as wellness checks, come from our professional tradition of service and a genuine concern for the well-being of the users we have come to know so well and care for so deeply. This desire for checking in on our users can come into conflict with our ethical charge to protect user privacy and confidentiality regarding library use. Before jumping into action, take time to think about the purpose of the calls and how they will be done. The guidelines below were developed to help libraries consider if, and how, staff can make calls to users.

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Posted in Privacy Awareness, Privacy in a Pandemic, professional ethics, Protecting Privacy, Voices For Privacy |

When libraries become medical screeners: User health data and library privacy

May 8, 2020 | By Becky Yoose

By: Becky Yoose What will your public library do when you reopen your doors? Some libraries are exploring phased reopening, starting with curbside or no-contact service outside the physical building. Others are investigating what reopening the physical building to library Read more…

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Posted in Choose Privacy Week, Privacy Awareness, Protecting Privacy | Tagged ,

Protecting Privacy In A Pandemic: A Resource Guide

| By OIF staff

Even during a public health emergency, libraries should continue to adhere to their mission and stand by the law and ethical standards that govern the provision of library services.

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Posted in Choose Privacy Week, libraries, Libraries and Privacy, Privacy and New Technologies, Privacy Awareness, Student privacy, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Virtual Programming and Patron Privacy

May 5, 2020 | By OIF staff

As libraries continue adjusting services and moving toward more virtual programming options, we’ve often found more questions than answers. As we experiment, share, and grow together, we’ll continue improving how we interact with and touch our communities, even if our physical spaces are inaccessible. It’s important that as we do so, we don’t overlook a critical piece of library services: patron privacy and security.

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Posted in Choose Privacy Week, Libraries and Privacy, Privacy and New Technologies, Privacy Awareness, Programming, Protecting Privacy, Schools, student data privacvy, Student privacy |


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