Thursday, January 14, 2016

You are not what you read: librarians purge user data to protect privacy

US libraries are doing something even the most security-conscious private firm would never dream of: deleting sensitive information in order to protect users
‘Library ethics have long leaned towards protecting the privacy of user data,’ says Graduate Center librarian Polly Thistlethwaite Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Last week, with little fanfare, the Graduate Center at the City University of New York did something very few private companies would ever do to protect its users’ privacy: it quietly began to purge its interlibrary loan records.
“This policy change is motivated by the idea that libraries should not keep more information about their users’ requests than necessary,” wrote Beth Posner, head of library resource sharing at the school.
“We will continue to keep all requests from 2013 forward until further notice; eventually we will only keep a rolling history of one year or less, though, in order to help ensure that ILL requests remain confidential,” she told students and faculty in the email. “Previously, you could find a list of everything you ever requested through ILL.”  Read more...

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