Library Insider: A Conversation About Privacy With Becky Yoose

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the Library’s privacy efforts and what patrons can do to increase their privacy when using Library resources, so we sat down with Becky Yoose, The Seattle Public Library’s Library Applications and Systems Manager, to find out more about privacy at the Library.

What is your role in the library’s patron privacy efforts?

I have many roles! The first role is to ensure that the data we collect for evaluating services places as little risk as possible in identifying individual patron activity. Essentially, making sure that we are not unnecessarily storing personally identifiable information about patrons themselves and what the patrons do, like checkouts or computer sessions or reference questions.

"Protection" image courtesy of Blue Coat Photos via FlickrAnother role is working with the IT Director in making sure that the vendors follow the confidentiality policies that the Library has in place, ensuring that they are treating patron data as securely as we would treat it. The third role that I have is with the Open Data Initiative for the City – I am the privacy champion for the Library. Continue reading “Library Insider: A Conversation About Privacy With Becky Yoose”

Addressing data privacy issues around Adobe Digital Editions

— by Jim L.

Yesterday, Nate Hoffelder, the editor of The Digital Reader blog reported that the newest version of the Adobe Digital Editions software (ADE 4) appears to be transmitting data about eBooks back to Adobe’s servers.

The Library’s primary eBook distributor, OverDrive, uses Adobe’s Digital Rights Management software to help enforce the rules that publishers require to permit libraries to lend eBooks. The Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) application is used to setup Adobe IDs, which are required for you to borrow and read library eBooks. Often, the process of setting up and configuring an Adobe ID happens while you’re checking out your first library eBook and rarely needs to be repeated.

ADE can also be used to manage your eBook collection and even to read eBooks. A friend of Hoffelder’s discovered that ADE version 4 gathers and transmits data in plain text about eBooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. Hoffelder’s article includes samples of data captures and screenshots that seem to bear this out.

According to another source, this issue appears to only affect users who use ADE on a desktop computer for reading and managing eBooks. If users use the OverDrive app or an e-reader device to actually read eBooks, it does not appear that they are affected. Continue reading “Addressing data privacy issues around Adobe Digital Editions”

I’ve Got a Secret: Intellectual freedom and you.

image-of-statue-outside-national-archives-courtesy-of-takomabiblelotIntellectual Freedom can mean many things: the right to read scandalous or subversive books, patron privacy, and access to information. Today I want to focus on access to information – and more specifically, government information.

When politicians talk about government transparency, what do they mean, exactly? What kind of information is given to the public at large, and what is kept secret? I’m one of those slightly paranoid, liberal types, and these are some of my favorite questions to research, read about, and debate with friends.

There’s more than one rule requiring the Government to give information to the People, but the big daddy of them all is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. The FOIA is a 1966 amendment to the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The FOIA is a journalist’s best friend, and it allows any person (including citizens of the US, foreign nationals, universities, etc.) to request information from the Federal government. The hoops through which one must jump are many, but a diligent and patient researcher will be rewarded. Unless, that is, the information is CLASSIFIED…

image-of-statue-2-outside-national-archives-courtesy-of-takomabibelotThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is home to many of the US’s most prized documents, some of which areavailable online. On the NARA website, you can read a telegram sent by Jackie Robinson to JFK, start your genealogy search, or request military documents.  The archives are very rich in information, just a percentage of which is available online.  An arm of NARA is the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which oversees the classification of information. Continue reading “I’ve Got a Secret: Intellectual freedom and you.”