We sometimes forget about the data we collect and how we store it. There are many places where we collect data that we may not always think about. We need to be aware of our data storage practices and make it easy for patrons to know how we use & store their data.
We often hear that Big Brother is watching you, but there are a lot of “Little Brothers” as well that wittingly or unwittingly funnel data to databases. Unfortunately, libraries and related organizations are a part of this surveillance environment, including the ALA.
Librarians don’t have to be a privacy expert in order to help people learn to protect their privacy online and sometimes it helps if you aren’t. Helping people understand privacy helps them make better choices more tailored to their own lives and their information needs.
Technology and digital data have made it easier to provide personalized online experiences. But people are often surprised to discover how much privacy they trade for those personalized experiences. How do libraries find that balance between customer service and privacy?
“Now is the time for us to tout the virtues of the library as a privacy haven to our patrons. We are not Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Google; and we should never strive to be. Our patrons are not our products. That is a huge difference between public institutions like libraries and private industries like social networks and tech conglomerates who derive their earnings from advertising.”
A selection of books and readings on privacy, Big Data, and libraries for Choose Privacy Week and beyond.
With the rise of surveillance technologies, and the ever-growing Internet of Things, there is a distinct possibility that in the near future, the library may be the only private public place left in modern society.
In the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony last week and the related explosion of public interest in how online personal data is collected, stored, shared, used and sometimes misused, this year’s CPW theme—“Big Data is Watching You”—could not be more perfectly timed.