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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

Raising Privacy Awareness in Your Library: A Planning and Programming Webinar for Choose Privacy Week 2016

Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Choose Privacy Week, libraries, Privacy Awareness, Privacy Education, Programming, Protecting Privacy, Student privacy | 0 comments

ALA_ChoosePrivacy_186x292-2016BIs your library preparing to observe Choose Privacy Week 2016? Join the ALA’s IFC Privacy Subcommittee and the Office for Intellectual Freedom for a free webinar that will offer solid guidance on developing privacy programming that will educate and engage your library users and provide an update on current privacy issues confronting libraries today.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 12 Noon Eastern/11:00 a.m. Central/10:00 a.m. Mountain / 9:00 am Pacific. It will feature three speakers:

  • Erin Berman of the San Jose Public Library will discuss the process of transforming a broad, intimidating topic like online privacy into a learning opportunity that is personal, approachable, actionable, and reusable. Learn about SJPL’s Virtual Privacy Lab, and how this free online resource can help you and your patrons build personalized toolkits for optimizing online privacy.
  • Michael Zimmer, Ph.D. of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee will discuss how to use films, and documentaries on privacy and surveillance to increase awareness among patrons and spark conversations on controversial technologies and practices. He’ll also provide ideas on finding guest speakers in your community to help guide discussions for your patrons.
  • Jamie LaRue, the new Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, will discuss his perspective on privacy and libraries and provide a scan of the most pressing privacy issues confronting libraries today.

The webinar will also offer brief introductions to resources on students’ and minors’ privacy and a guide to free and low-cost print and online resources that can support your library’s observance of Choose Privacy Week. [The live webinar was recorded on March 24 and is available to view and share via this link:  http://ala.adobeconnect.com/p695kh38t2v.]

Choose Privacy Week is the American Library Association’s annual, week-long event that promotes the importance of individual privacy rights. Choose Privacy Week, May 1 – 7, 2016, also celebrates libraries and librarians’ unique role in protecting privacy in the library and in society as a whole. For more information on Choose Privacy Week, visit https://chooseprivacyweek.org.

Speaker biographies:

Erin Berman is the Innovations Manager at San Jose Public Library (SJPL). She was chosen as one of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Emerging Leaders in 2014 and is currently the Chair of the Fundraising Committee for the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Ms. Berman has driven many new technology initiatives, including the design of a mobile makerspace, building the framework for the Library’s STEAMstacks programming, and advocating for privacy literacy through the construction of the Virtual Privacy Lab.

Michael Zimmer, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies and director of the Center for Information Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jamie LaRue is the Director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. From 1990 to 2014, he was director of the Douglas County (Colorado) Libraries, widely known as one of the most successful and innovative public libraries in the nation. He then served as CEO of LaRue & Associates, with an active career in writing, speaking and consulting. Author of the award-winning book “The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges” (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), Jamie is a frequent presenter for library associations, regional workshops, and library staff days.

Almost, but not too late to tell @SpeakerRyan to #StopCISA

Posted by on December 16, 2015 in cybersecurity, government surveillance, Legislation, Privacy and Security, Protecting Privacy, surveillance | 0 comments

by Adam Eisgrau
Managing Director, ALA Office of Government Relations
Cross-posted from District Dispatch

Loyal District Dispatch readers know that, literally for years, ALA and a strong coalition of groups and companies from across the political spectrum have been fighting privacy-unfriendly “cybersecurity,” aka “information” sharing, legislation most recently unveiled as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754). CISA was meant merely to incentivize companies like internet service providers to share hints of “cyber-threats” with the government by shielding them from liability for doing so. The bill has been consistently and rightly criticized, however, for seriously compromising all of our personal privacy and for creating de facto new surveillance programs for the NSA and FBI. (Already heard enough? Click here to take action.)

Until very recently, those serious defects and strong grassroots efforts by ALA and many others kept CISA and its legislative predecessors from passing. In recent weeks, however, the Chairs of the powerful House and Senate Committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security secretly negotiated a compromise version of their several “information sharing” bills that the White House signaled it could approve if passed.

Late last night, that language — now as bad or worse than it’s ever been from a privacy perspective – was slipped as a “rider” by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan into the 2000+ page “omnibus” spending bill that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown. A vote on the omnibus is slated to take place Thursday just before Congress leaves town for the holidays.

Librarians and other civil liberties organizations may lose this fight, but we needn’t and shouldn’t go quietly! Join ALA President Sari Feldman in protesting this undemocratic deal.

The odds are long and time is tight, so Tweets are sweet. Please, click here to send one to your Member of Congress. It’s already set to ask him or her to tell Speaker Ryan that middle-of-the-night deals that give the NSA new surveillance tools have no place in the omnibus, and that it’s not too late for the Speaker to #StopCISA .

Your voice matters. Get mad and get LOUD, right now!

SEE:  ALA President urges Congress to reject controversial cybersecurity rider

House hearing held on stopping warrantless searches in the cloud

Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Digital Due Process, ECPA Reform, Privacy and New Technologies, Privacy and Security, Protecting Privacy, surveillance | 0 comments

by Mack Freeman
(Crossposted from the Intellectual Freedom Blog)

This week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The ECPA is a federal law that controls how the government can access private communication records that are being stored by an online service provider (i.e. in the cloud). The reason for this hearing is that there is a bill currently pending that would change the ECPA to require a warrant before any government entity could gather this information. In the Senate, it’s the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act and in the House it’s the Email Privacy Act.

Currently, there is a ruling from the Sixth Circuit that effectively does this: Warshak v. United States decided that email privacy is protected by the Fourth Amendment. This has caused most service providers to require the government to provide a warrant before they release any information. However, this ruling has not been codified into law and could be overturned by subsequent judicial proceedings.

By and large, this is seen as a way for civil agencies (primarily the Securities and Exchange Commission) to expand their power and access to information. Because they are civil agencies, they lack the power to issue warrants, and they have been looking for a new way to access this information through a new prerogative. Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

“The SEC testified that currently it does not use administrative subpoenas to obtain communications content from online service providers, and instead seeks emails directly from individuals. Yet the agency wants to be able to obtain not only older communications content from third parties, but also messages that are 180 days old or newer, which is authority that civil agencies currently do not have in any form—a point that Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) made.”

The good news in all of this is that there are over 300 co-sponsors of this bill in the House (the most of any bill currently before Congress according to the ALA Washington Office), so it is likely to pass when and if it comes to a vote. However, as with all legislation, it isn’t over until it’s over, so interested parties are encouraged to contact their Senator and Representative. Via the District Dispatch:

Where H.R. 699 (and its Senate companion, S. 356) goes from here — and more to the point when — is unclear. Strong further advocacy by librarians, in harness with our many coalition partners, may well be what it takes to “spring” HR. 699 from the Committee in which it’s been mired for years but from which, this week, it may just have begun to emerge.

This may seem like a minor piece of technology change that has very little to do with libraries, but the right of an individual to maintain their privacy in all the environments of the modern world is a key part of intellectual freedom. Librarians need to stand for advances and laws that help codify these rights and that help protect individuals from warrantless searches. No civil government agency should have the right to trawl through any user’s online records without a warrant in the same way that they should not be allowed to search a person’s home or office without a warrant. Libraries should proactively stand for user privacy whenever they can, and the steps that Congress are making on this bill in limiting civil power to conduct warrantless searches is a step in the right direction.

Whenever any person has their privacy violated, this has a chilling effect on that person’s future expression of free speech and thought. In an increasingly technology driven world, more and more people (myself included) are keeping their personal thoughts on their digital devices under the assumption that, much like their locked desk drawers, these arenas are their own domains. The idea that a civil government agency could violate that privacy at any moment without a warrant or any probable cause is repugnant to the idea of intellectual freedom. ALA’s own Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights as it relates to Privacy holds in high regard the right of all library users to maintain their privacy no matter what information or materials they are seeking. I believe that if we advocate for such a right inside our buildings (when users are using our networks to access their cloud-based digital files, for example), then we must advocate for that right to extend beyond the library’s doors.

Advocacy for privacy in the digital realm can not be a place-based proposition because the digital world is literally everywhere. As such, advocates of intellectual freedom must advocate for a clear right to privacy in cloud-based storage from warrantless snooping by the government. As previously stated, this would seem to be such a small change; however, as the ALA Washington Office has pointed out in their District Dispatch article linked above, moving this bill has been an incredibly slow and laborious process.



John “Mack” Freeman is the Marketing and Programming Coordinator for the West Georgia Regional Library. He is a past recipient of the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Conable Scholarship, and a 2015 ALA Emerging Leader.