Privacy and Libraries

WADE, Martyn (2015) Privacy and Libraries. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 113 - CLM with FAIFE.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Privacy and Libraries

The information releases – or leaks – about surveillance by Edward Snowden in 2013 prompted a debate and awareness amongst the library and information profession about the issue of privacy. The paper briefly summarises the development of the concept of privacy until its acceptance today as a human right. The important role that library and information services have to play in ensuring individual privacy is described together with the role of librarians as advocates of privacy. The paper argues that the profession must take an ethical stance towards privacy, as reflected in professional codes of conduct and practice. The paper concludes that privacy is recognised as a human right and is important in every culture, and that the absence of privacy can have a chilling effect on both the citizen and society as a whole. Library and information services should respect this right and work in an ethical way when working to ensure citizens can enjoy and benefit from that right, but also should manage their own services in ways that respect their users’ privacy. Library and information workers must continue – as they have always done – to take a carefully thought out ethical stance to ensure that they we also maintain their role of working to ensure freedom of access and freedom of expression.

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