BCLA Hot Topic: Notes from Privacy Matters

Apologies for any typos and the lack of the details I usually have. Notes were blogged on my tiny (3.5″) phone screen. Corrections and links will be added if I can find them or someone reports them to me.

Introduction by Barbara Jo May

  • Devil in the details – DRM, terms of use in third party agreements
  • Surveillance – never been so widespread, impedes freedom
  • Oversight of agencies difficult to understand
  • Session of thinkers and do’ers

Scott Leslie

Slides: http://slides.com/scottleslie/privacy-matters

  • Is there a problem? Indisputable. But is it perceived as such?
  • Online privacy threats: hackers, state, commercial, employers, peers and family, insurance
  • 2014 survey of Canadians on Privacy: Level of concern increasing; not protected or not control over information; decrease understanding of privacy & protection; some awareness; people turning to search engines & websites, not government sites
  • Pew Study of State of Privacy in US: less concern with companies but likely know what they do; are concerned; less concerned about actions online but again unlikely don’t understand; little confidence companies aren’t keeping information even if don’t want them to
  • Open Media’s Canada Privacy Plan: deficit in warrantless access, widespread surveillance, accountability
  • should libraries fix this? Maybe. Need to fix in-house stuff first
  • Web Privacy in Practice in libraries by Myron Grover & G. Gardner: worrisome that majority not serving information securely
  • Matthew Reidsma’s Privacy (HTTPS) evaluation of ebook vendors: only one provided HTTPS by default
  • Need multiple ways to address this: education, advocacy, service innovation

Kate Milberry

Slides: https://prezi.com/avudanlxydfx/nothing-to-fear/

  • Joint Intelligence Group: investigators of possible threats to G20. Largest known surveillance in Canada. Charges mostly on members of Toronto Community Mobilization, 6 that went through. Much covert and overt surveillance.
  • Inverse surveillance: monitoring police or high ranking official.
  • Preemptive arrests and brutality of peaceful protesters.
  • Due to C-51, police can arrest based on what might do, not what already done.
  • We should be educating and increasing privacy

Library Freedom Project – Alison Macrina @flexlibris

  • Privacy education in libraries
  • Surveillance told necessary for our protection, but we know it’s not true
  • Affects local community. Example: black lives matter; frequently minorities, marginalized groups
  • Measurable effect on writing: self-censorship by writers in writing and speaking
  • Books not being written, community under threat
  • Project started after Snowden revelations
  • In libraries, started hearing about privacy issues from patrons
  • Opportunity to educate. Met with ACLU & other civil libertarians attorneys
  • Power of metadata: will kill based on metadata. Example: if had wanted to stop American revolution just had to kill the guys connecting various groups
  • Work with TOR to develop tools to protect privacy
  • Teach about privacy and programming
  • In addition to legal aspects, practical methods.
  • Encryption works! But frequently not used or used incorrectly
  • Can use TOR browser, Duckduckgo search engine, privacy badger, https (Let’s Encrypt, certbot), Signal (encrypted text and calls)
  • Resources: Surveillance self-defense, library freedom project, crypto party


  • Outlawing strong encryption: bleak right now, because don’t need legislation for backdoors etc. To be inserted. Trust open source because can see whether they’re install. Fool’s errand.
  • Staff afraid of police: need training.
  • Guidelines exist in BC by PLSB. Libraries may need to have privacy policies in the future.

The End

That’s the end of the presentations for the day, but now time for the reception.

three ducklings standing around
Time to chat!

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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