ALA releases new privacy and confidentiality Q&A

What do we think of this?

Overall it seems pretty decent. Though they do call out related privacy concerns, disappointed that they seem to generally support the use of surveillance cameras for “enhancing physical security” and even sharing surveillance video with law enforcement without a warrant or subpoena.

@tracy can you please quote the parts you take issue with?

I’m just curious about what parts you’re talking about exclusively.

I’ll try not to take any criticism too personally since Erin and I did the revisions.

Please be honest. I want the gritty feedback.

did you see @libskrat’s criticism on twitter? I didn’t look into it in depth.

Never mind I read the critique, of course the document isn’t perfect. I wasn’t afraid she’d hate it, she rarely has anything positive to say. I’ve done to her talks before and they’ve been almost entirely negative. I’m not too concerned with her negativity. I know things are up to the best standards they can be, but it needed to be something that would get approved by ALA so concessions had to be made.

It’s not so much a criticism as it is a carte blanch condemnation with no real definition as to what she’d like to change. Could it be stronger? Absolutely, but I don’t think she’s aware of the original document and the massive improvements this is over it. And there will be rewrites in the future and she’s more than welcome to be apart of it.

Sorry, I’m going on a tangent.

thank you for your work on this TJ

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Erin Berman and I tried our best, we spend weeks on it, and we’re will to take constructive feedback because it’ll definitely get revised again, hopefully not in another 10 years or so like I think it was last time.

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I’m trying to play catch-up on our threads after being out of the office this week. I started reading this and then realizing how extensive this is, and my only request would be for a tl;dr. Or maybe an executive summary? My reaction from speed-read scrolling is that I’m impressed.

Just to be clear, overall I thought it was good, and I am probably more anti-surveillance in libraries than is realistic. In my ideal world ALA would say straight up, libraries should not be surveilling their patrons.

This is the line I initially didn’t like(because I don’t think libraries should ever voluntarily hand over anything at all to law enforcement), but upon a closer read of the whole thing, I do feel like there is also a whole lot about being very careful with surveillance video and I probably overreacted to this one sentence when just skimming:
libraries may voluntarily disclose surveillance camera images to law enforcement if the images do not reveal any person’s use of specific library materials or resources

Also, I cant imagine how much work this was to put together–nice work and thank you!


Thanks for clarifying! We did try our best but we are limited to what ALA will approve and both Erin and I are really privacy minded but we had to find that balance to actually get it approved. Thanks for the encouragement, and we’re always looking to make stronger statements. <3