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Purging User Data to Protect Privacy: a small library's outsized impact


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Presentation offered at the IFLA 2016 World Library and Information Congress. Session 122 Who's in control? Privacy, the Internet and libraries. Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) (SI). August 16, 2016, Columbus, OH.

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Purging User Data to Protect Privacy: a small library's outsized impact

  1. 1. Purging User Data to Protect Privacy: a small library’s outsized impact Polly Thistlethwaite Chief Librarian The Graduate Center, CUNY New York, NY USA @missreadings
  2. 2. The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York.
  3. 3. Small but Mighty … Interlibrary loan = ¼ total circulation
  4. 4. Why Keep ILL Data? Stats for collection development Users like their request records To target recommendations to users
  5. 5. Why let it go? privacy expectations minimize user tracking retain data short-term encourage private inquiry
  6. 6. "In a library … the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one's interest … scrutinized by others."
  7. 7. Privacy is so 20th century … Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems [on privacy]: “Get over it.” Wired, 1999 Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook: “People have really gotten comfortable … sharing more information of different kinds … more openly and with more people … . That social norm … has evolved … .” The Guardian, 2010 L. G. Crovitz, Wall Street Journal: “The benefits of technology have changed people’s expectations about privacy and information.” Wall Street Journal, 2011
  8. 8.
  9. 9. Even if we purge, data persists
  10. 10. Context: FOIL Requests
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
  13. 13. ILLiad Script Options De-link Records • break transaction links Delete old usernames if without transactions Delete old transactions select date parameters
  14. 14. Project Timeline SEPT OCT NOV DEC JAN School begins School break Blog #1 Mass email Blog #2 ILLiad alert message OCLC preps script Script runs Individual Qs
  15. 15. Communication = Key
  16. 16. Media Coverage!
  17. 17. Social Media Buzz
  18. 18. Synergy
  19. 19.
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  21. 21. Purging User Data to Protect Privacy: a small library’s outsized impact Polly Thistlethwaite The Graduate Center, CUNY @missreadings With: Beth Posner, Head of Resource Sharing Silvia Cho, Interlibrary Loan Supervisor
  22. 22. References American Library Association. (30 June 2004). ALA Policy concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about Library Users. Cain, S (4 August 2016). British Woman Held After Being Seen Reading a Book about Syria on Plane. The Guardian. Crovitz, L. G. (28 March 2011). The 0.00002% Privacy Solution. The Wall Street Journal. Crowley , K. (17 July 1990, 15) Zodiac Cops Quiz Broker about Library Book. New York Post. CUNY Libraries’ Privacy Statement (February 2016) services/policies/patron-privacy/ Daniels, J. and P. Thistlethwaite. (2016) Being a Scholar in the Digital Era: Transforming scholarly practice for the public good. Bristol: Policy Press. Esposito, J. (2016). Libraries May Have Gotten the Privacy Thing All Wrong. The Scholarly Kitchen. Etzioni, A. (2015). Privacy in a cyber age: Policy and practice. New York: Palgrave McMillan. Johnson, B. (10 January 2010). Privacy no longer a social norm, says Facebook founder. The Guardian. Koulessar, R. (23 May 2015). Michelle Fine Responds to Emails Posted by Montclair Kids First.
  23. 23. References – cont’d Macrina, A. (14 July 2016). Protecting Patron Privacy. Library Journal. resources/protecting-patron-privacy/ Night of the Zodiac. (11 July 1990, 1). New York Post. OCLC (n.d.) Privacy policy. OCLC. (2015). OCLC Information Security Whitepaper. OCLC. Parisier, E. (22 May 2011). What the Internet knows about you. Posner, B. (6 October 2015). Interlibrary Loan News: Keep your ILL request history private. Shain, M. (20 July 1990, 1). Knock on Every Door: Search for Zodiac back to square one. New York Post. Shain, M. (12 July 1990, 1, 5). Zodiac Trap: Cops set to shut down subways when killer strikes. New York Post. Shain, M. and A. E. Murray. (11 July 1990, 8) New Zodiac Twist: Dies he use a computer? New York Post. Sprenger, P. (26 January 1999). Sun on Privacy: “Get Over It.” Wired. Theilman, S. (13 January 2016). You are Not What You Read: Librarians purge user data to protect privacy. The Guardian. Turow, J., et al. (2009). Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities That Enable It. Zimmer, M. (2013). Assessing the Treatment of Patron Privacy in Library 2.0 Literature. Information Technology & Libraries 32(2), 29-41.