Posts Tagged ‘privacy’


Guarding privacy

In CILIP on March 18, 2010 by africker Tagged: , ,

CILIP have published a guideline on User privacy in libraries.

This is a very helpful document and just the kind of thing I would expect CILIP to produce.   It is well illustrated with examples and further reading material is linked appropriately.

It would have been nice to see the document embrace a wider audience.  This is one of those times when I think we need to either drop “Library” or broaden the title by adding more terms.

It would be great to build on this to create advice tailored to internet users more generally about their personal data and privacy online.

Issues around privacy of this type arise frequently in the news (though generally beyond the walls of a library) and it is to be hoped that CILIP can provide some responsible and sensible comment on these stories.  This would help raise the profile of the profession and the expertise we offer.



Caution, MySpace rants no longer private

In Blogging on Blogging on April 9, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , ,

Were MySpace rants ever private?  That is the reason I quit MySpace, also because everybody and their grandmother sent you a link to their band’s new song.  I do not think MySpace (at that time anyway) had even a pretense of privacy (by this I mean the option to only allow certain people or groups access to your space).

What I find troubling is that your first name on your MySpace account ‘magically’ becomes linked with your surname when your diatribe is then published in the local newspaper. I realise nothing except a pen and paper diary is private anymore, but how have we come to this?  And that isn’t private unless you write it in a language nobody speaks and bury it under your floorboards.  On reflection, I am amazed that the principal was keeping such close tabs on his pupils, or that he actually cared what was written on MySpace.  Perhaps schools have a problem with teachers and staff being named and shamed on there?


Google Street View and the threat to our privacy

In Web 2.0 & all that on March 20, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , ,

So Google have launched Google Steet View in the UK. I’m sure we’ve all played with it already. I looked at my flat, of course, and scrutinized my windows to see if I could see anything that I shouldn’t want anyone else to see. Thankfully all is safe on that account. I peered at my neighbours windows too, though unfortunately the same applied to them too – no bizarre goings-ons were visible. Not that one expects anything in such dignified parts of North Surrey of course. We have standards. I had a look around bits of North London too, where standards are notoriously lax, and likewise failed to spot anything outrageous. In a fit of desperation to find something I even trawled around the back streets of Soho (online, you understand) to see if I could spot any friends coming out of artistic bookstores or health and beauty emporiums and the like, but those clever people at Google seemed to have done their picture taking of that part of town early on a Sunday morning, and the whole place was shut and not a soul to be seen. You can imagine how disappointed I was.

There has been some fuss and hullaballo, as we all know, about privacy and the like, and the fact that burglars could use it to plan their robberies. I’m not sure I’m too convinced that this is a real threat to anyone. People’s faces have been blurred to comply with tougher European privacy laws (quite rightly too), and car number plates likewise obscured. The pictures are snapshots, so evidently they can’t be used to follow or track anyone’s movements. And if you see yourself you can ask to be removed. And really, who’s so sad as to go around looking for funny pictures, apart from the odd desperate blogger (e.g. “Top 15 street view sightings” (US)) or dreadful, reactionary newspapers like the Daily Mail. And even then the most embarrassing shots they can find are disappointingly tame.

There ARE very real and very serious issues about privacy and the surveillance state and all that, but these are the constant monitoring by CCTV cameras and the like, and the lack of controls allowing any part of the state apparatus to keep checks on where we are and where we’re going, but I really don’t think Google Maps is a threat – surely it’s just a great tool? I’m not naive enough to think that Google are some sort of benign organisation, but neither am I so cynical as to think they’re aiming to turn the world into a 1984 style gulag. Privacy campaigners are likely to do themselves more harm than good going after Street View – they should stick to the real threats to privacy (and liberty etc) bought in by the current administration – at least in this country, and probably elsewhere.

Or am I missing something?


Facebook and Privacy

In social networking on February 16, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , ,

Has Facebook become a prison for your personal details (and photos)?  It appears that way as bloggers Consumerist and Mashable report that Facebook has changed its terms and conditions to state that information about how you use Facebook and details about you will be retained even after you quit.

Facebook has removed this paragraph from the terms of service:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

Now, I am not sure why Facebook would *want* to use my content, but I find the wording of the agreement (which is minus the above) very worrisome.  I also do not like the fact that they own my photos that are on there–since mid last year I have not put much up.

Hmm, is it time for me to find a shiny, happy, my-rights-are-protected social networking site?

According to Eric Lee, Ning and Elgg are a couple of social networks that could work as alternatives to Facebook.  I might have a look at these in coming weeks and report back.


Google versus Privacy

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2008 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , ,

“When we began anonymizing after 18 months, we knew it meant sacrifices in future innovations in all of these areas.”Official Google Blog

Now Google has had to start anonymising search engine data (i.e. our IP addresses) after 9 months. The Article 29 Working Party, an EU privacy regulators’ group, is still not happy, however and has called for data to be deleted after six months.

The Data Protection Act states that personal data should not be kept longer than is necessary. Addendum: According to Out-Law, there is some debate about whether IP addresses *are* personal data, but it seems like in the hands of internet service providers, they are, because ISPs have our names and addresses as well.

I am not sure why Google would need a specific IP address for search data for as long as 9 months. Why can’t they just generalise the information to look at what country the user comes from? That certainly isn’t inflammatory data. Although there seems to be a general trend towards having less privacy, I am not wrapping my head in tin foil just yet. Where is the Firefox Add-on to scramble our IP addresses, just to toy with confuse them?


Increased discussion and interaction amo …

In Blogging on Blogging on July 31, 2008 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Increased professional discussion and interaction amongst healthcare professionals is a very positive result of the availability of blogging software and social networking venues. Naturally, there are possible ‘adverse effects’ of communication that is detailed, public and in which patients might be discussed, or products pushed. A recently-published paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by Lagu et al finds that violations of patient privacy and product endorsements are two undesirable byproducts of medical blogging.

Lagu et al state that most established medical bloggers make an effort to veil their own identity and protect patient privacy. It is rare for a blogger to violate a patient’s privacy outright–the more common ‘grey area’ is a blogger giving some details about where they work and what they do, so that they are identifiable to colleagues and the public. This could endanger a patient’s privacy (my own thinking is that someone could piece together some details of who the patient is or what condition(s) a known person has, especially if they know a bit about the healthcare professional and/or the patient).
Their outlook is positive and they believe that more established bloggers are setting a good path for newbies to follow.

“A voluntary movement by medical blog authors toward self-regulation regarding patient privacy, transparency, anonymity, and patient respect is taking shape.”

I wonder if, in the near future, we can expect the BMA (or the CMA, over the ocean) to set out guidelines on medical blogging? And what about the many other colleges and associations for nurses and specialists?

Lagu et al found that 31% of the 271 healthcare blogs identified contained 1 or more product endorsement. These are not adverts of the variety that move and flash (and can be easily removed by my browser)–no, they are often written into the blog. Any sensible blogger will realise that making paid promotions (which many of these are) completely compromises their credibilty, and in this case, the blogger’s professional reputation. The researchers could not actually tell if the endorsements were paid, or if they were just things the blogger found effective, as most blogs did not declare competing interests (and they should!).