By Michael Robinson
Chair, ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee
Associate Professor at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska – Anchorage
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom demonstrated its foresight when it started the Choose Privacy Week program in 2010, launching an ongoing program to raise awareness among libraries and library users about the dangers of government surveillance and demonstrating why privacy is important, especially in light of the growing use of online resources and services. For several years, the program felt like it was a lone voice for privacy in libraryland. However, the Snowden revelations in 2013 and the Adobe E-reader kerfuffle in 2014 brought privacy issues to the forefront in the library community and among the general public, and for the most part the case for why privacy is important has been made. We are now moving into a phase where libraries are looking for ways to improve privacy protections for their users, and in light of this change, we have designated Practical Privacy Practices as the theme for this year’s Choose Privacy Week, taking place May 1 – 7, 2017.
We kicked this year’s observation of Choose Privacy Week with a webinar about practical privacy practices on April 13th that focused on three areas: how to configure and manage the integrated library system (Marshall Breeding); how to install free HTTPS certificates on your websites using Let’s Encrypt (Mike Robinson); and how to provide anonymous web browsing using TOR and other tools (Alison Macrina). You can access a recording of the presentation here.
We also have a fantastic set of blog posts planned for this week that explore and promote technologies and practices that libraries can employ to enhance privacy protections. So keep an eye on the Choose Privacy Week website for the rest of the week for these and other articles:
- Long Overdue: Revisiting Library Privacy Policies by Nancy Kranich
- De-identification and Patron Data by Becky Yoose
- Negotiating Contracts with Vendors for Privacy by Eric Stroshane
- A Toolkit to Audit Your Library’s Privacy Practices by Sarah Houghton
- Choosing Privacy for Public Computers in Libraries by Matt Beckstrom
- Data Exchange and the Art of Iterating Security Checkups by Galen Charlton
- Piwik, An Alternative to Google Analytics by Adam Chandler
Finally, you may have noticed a new look for the Choose Privacy Week website, accompanied by new downloadable graphics to promote Choose Privacy Week in your libraries. We have made a first round of changes that we hope will make the website easier to use and transform it into a clearinghouse for resources to improve library privacy practices and provide support for privacy programs that spark community discussions about current privacy issues.