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Choose Privacy Week is held annually May 1 - 7. Start planning now for your library’s participation and programming. Choose Privacy Week materials are available now in the ALA Store.

Voices For Privacy

Who’s Reading the Reader? : Choose Privacy Week 2015

Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Choose Privacy Week, libraries, Privacy and New Technologies, Protecting Privacy | 0 comments

This year’s observance of Choose Privacy Week, May 1 – 7, 2015 asks the question, “Who’s Reading the Reader?” The rapid development of online and digital technologies have given governments and corporations alike the ability to track, record, and monitor our communications and reading habits – a very real threat to the reader’s right to privacy.

During Choose Privacy Week the American Library Association invites librarians and library users to engage in a conversation about protecting and defending reader privacy rights and how to acquire the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to address the widespread surveillance and data mining that collects information about users’ communications, reading and web surfing habits.

The featured event for this year’s Choose Privacy Week is a week-long online forum that will include guest commentaries by librarians and privacy experts on the challenges of protecting reader privacy. The forum schedule is below:

May 1, 2015: Who Reads the Reader: Choose Privacy Week 2015 by Michael Robinson, chair, ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee.

Michael Robinson is an Associate Professor, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage and chair of the Alaska Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee

May 2, 2015: The Poacher and the Five Blind Librarians, by Eric Hellman.

Eric Hellman is a technologist, entrepreneur, and writer who blogs at http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/ where he publishes his own research on how well vendors follow privacy practices.

May 3, 2015: Passwords: Alison’s Personal Password Strategy by Alison Macrina.

Alison Macrina is the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative that trains librarians on the state of global surveillance, privacy rights, and privacy-protecting technology.

May 4, 2015: Online Catalogs, Discovery Services, and Patron Privacy by Marshall Breeding.

Marshall Breeding is an independent consultant focusing on the strategic use of technology in libraries and related organizations. He is the creator of Library Technology Guides and the editor of Smart Libraries Newsletter published by ALA TechSource.

May 5, 2015: What You Should Know About “Anonymous” Aggregated Data About You by Gretchen McCord.

Gretchen McCord, formerly a practicing academic librarian, is an attorney specializing in privacy and copyright law.

May 6, 2015: The NISO Patron Privacy Project: Developing a Framework to Support Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems by Michael Zimmer.

Michael Zimmer is a privacy and Internet ethics scholar who is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Director of its Center for Information Policy Research.

May 7, 2015: Creating a Digital Privacy Literacy Game to Create Safe and Secure Online Personas by Erin Berman and Jon Worona.

Erin is the Community Programs Administrator for Technology and Innovation at San Jose Public Library and Jon is the Division Manager for Technology and Innovation at San Jose Public Library. Their proposal to create an online privacy literacy prototype for San Jose Public Library users won a Knight News Challenge for Libraries grant.

This is the sixth year we’ve observed Choose Privacy Week.   Does your library have anything planned to raise public awareness about personal privacy rights and help library users make informed choices about their privacy?   Share your event with the Office for Intellectual Freedom at oif@ala.org.

ALA says “NO!” to Section 215 reauthorization gambit

Posted by on April 22, 2015 in FISA / PATRIOT Act, government surveillance, Protecting Privacy, surveillance | 0 comments

(Crossposted from ALA-WO’s District Dispatch)

As both chambers of Congress prepare to take up and debate long-needed surveillance law reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) bill (introduced late yesterday) to simply reauthorize the “library provision” (Section 215) of the USA PATRIOT Act until 2020 without change of any kind was met today by a storm of opposition from leading privacy and civil liberties groups with ALA in the vanguard.  In a statement released this morning, American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young said unequivocally of S.1035:

“Nothing is more basic to democracy and librarianship than intellectual freedom. And, nothing is more hostile to that freedom than the knowledge that the government can compel a library—without a traditional judicial search warrant—to report on the reading and Internet records of library patrons, students, researchers and entrepreneurs. That is what Section 215 did in 2001 and what it still does today.

“The time is long past for Section 215 to be meaningfully reformed to restore the civil liberties massively and unjustifiably compromised by the USA PATRIOT Act. For libraries of every kind, for our hundreds of millions of users, ALA stands inimically against S. 1035 and the reauthorization of Section 215 without significant and urgently needed change.”

In the coming days and weeks the ALA Washington Office will be working intensively to fight for real changes to Section 215 and other provisions of the PATRIOT Act, but it will need the help of all librarians and library supporters to succeed.  Sign up now for the latest on ALA and its coalition partners’ efforts, and how you can help sway your Members of Congress when the time comes.  That will be very soon, so don’t wait!

It’s now or (almost) never for real NSA reform; contacting Congress today critical!

Posted by on November 17, 2014 in FISA / PATRIOT Act, government surveillance, Protecting Privacy | 0 comments

Courtesy of the ALA Washington Office’s District Dispatch blog:

It was mid-summer when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, answered the House of Representative’s passage of an unacceptably weak version of the USA FREEDOM Act by introducing S. 2685, a strong, bipartisan bill of his own. Well, it’s taken until beyond Veterans Day, strong lobbying by civil liberties groups and tech companies, and a tough stand by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Leahy’s bill and real National Security Agency (NSA) reform may finally get an up or down vote in the just-opened “lame duck” session of the U.S. Senate. That result is very much up in the air, however, as this article goes to press.

Now is the time for librarians and others on the front lines of fighting for privacy and civil liberties to heed ALA President Courtney Young’s September call to “Advocate. Today.” And we do mean today. Here’s the situation:

Thanks to Majority Leader Reid, Senators will cast a key procedural vote late on Tuesday afternoon that is, in effect, “do or die” for proponents of meaningful NSA reform in the current Congress. If Senators Reid and Leahy, and all of us, can’t muster 60 votes on Tuesday night just to bring S. 2685 to the floor, then the overwhelming odds are—in light of the last election’s results—that another bill as good at reforming the USA PATRIOT Act as Senator Leahy’s won’t have a prayer of passage for many, many years.

Even if reform proponents prevail on Tuesday, however, our best intelligence is that some Senators will offer amendments intended to neuter or at least seriously weaken the civil liberties protections provided by Senator Leahy’s bill. Other Senators will try to strengthen the bill but face a steep uphill battle to succeed.

Soooooo….. now is the time for all good librarians (and everyone else) to come to the aid of Sens. Leahy and Reid, and their country. Acting now is critical . . . and it’s easy. Just click here to go to ALA’s Legislative Action Center. Once there, follow the user-friendly prompts to quickly find and send an e-mail to both of your U.S. Senators (well, okay, their staffs but they’ll get the message loud and clear) and to your Representative in the House. Literally a line or two is all you, and the USA FREEDOM Act, need. Tell ‘em:

  • The NSA’s telephone records “dragnet,” and “gag orders” imposed by the FBI without a judge’s approval, under the USA PATRIOT Act must end;
  • Bring Sen. Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act to the floor of the Senate now; and
  • Pass it without any amendments that make it’s civil liberties protections weaker (but expanding them would be just fine) before this Congress ends!

Just as in the last election, in which so many races were decided by razor thin margins, your e-mail “vote” could be the difference between finally reforming the USA PATRIOT Act. . . or not. With the key vote on Tuesday night, there’s no time to lose. As President Young wrote: “Advocate. Today.”