Behavior Data vs. Patron Privacy: Productive Discomfort

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/04/opinion/peer-to-peer-review/behavior-data-vs-patron-privacy-productive-discomfort-peer-to-peer-review/

I bring this up because of a strong tension I noticed at the recent Library Technology Conferencebetween library notions of privacy and academic libraries’ salutary desire to use various forms of patron behavior data to improve websites and other services. How much are we willing to snoop to get better at what we do? How do we gauge potential (not actual, let us pray) harm to patrons? When we do decide that snooping is worth the risks, how do we protect our patrons from data breaches (making the news at too many higher education institutions of late) and reidentification attacks? How do we avoid participating in today’s sinister commercial and political nightmare of greedy, thoughtless, not-always-disclosed physical and digital surveillance? Does performing surveillance in our much-trusted libraries not legitimize the other surveillance regimes?

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