There’s a Checklist For That!

Welcome to this week’s Tip of the Hat!

Last week was a busy week on both state and federal privacy regulation fronts, and it was a busy week for one-half of LDH too due to jury duty! The Executive Assistant was tasked to keep an eye on the state and federal updates; however, when asked for the report, the Executive Assistant was not forthcoming:

A black cat curled up on a yellow and green blanket.
While we catch up from a very busy week of updates, let’s talk about checklists.

Many of us use checklists each day, either as a to-do list, or to confirm that everything is in place before opening a library, or launching a new online service. Checklists can help prioritize and direct focus on otherwise large nebulous encompassing things, making sure that the important bits are not overlooked.

When we talk about privacy, many folks become overwhelmed as to what they should be doing at work to protect patron privacy. Libraries, in particular, have many bases to cover when it comes to implementing privacy best practices, ranging from electronic resources, public computing, websites, and applications. Where does one start?

In 2016, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee published the ALA Library Privacy Guidelines, aimed to help libraries and vendors in developing and implementing best practices surrounding digital privacy and security:

  • E-book Lending and Digital Content Vendors
  • Data Exchange Between Networked Devices and Services
  • Public Access Computers and Networks
  • Library Websites, OPACs, and Discovery Services
  • Library Management Systems
  • Students in K-12 Schools

There is a lot of good information in these guides; however, we run into the same overwhelming feeling when reading all the guides, not knowing where to start. Enter the checklists!

To give folks direction in working through the Library Privacy Guidelines, volunteers from the LITA Patron Privacy Interest Group and the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Privacy Subcommittee created Library Privacy Checklists for each corresponding Guideline. Each checklist is broken down into three sections:

Priority 1 lists best practices that the majority of libraries and vendors should take with minimal additional resources. These practices are a baseline, the minimal amount that one needs to do to protect patron privacy.

Priority 2 are practices that will require a bit more planning and effort than those in the previous section. These practices can be done with some additional resources, be it in-house knowledge/skills or external vendors or contractors. Depending on the checklist, many libraries and vendors can implement at least one practice in this section, but some might not be able to go beyond this section.

Priority 3 are practices that require a higher level of technical skill and resources to implement. For those libraries and vendors that have the available resources, this section gives guidance as to where to focus those resources.

These checklists break the ALA Library Privacy Guidelines down into prioritized, actionable tasks for libraries and organizations to use when trying to align themselves with the Guidelines. The prioritization helps those organizations with limited resources to focus on core best privacy practices as well as giving more resourced organizations guidance as to where to go next in their privacy efforts. These checklists can also be used as a foundation for conversations about overall privacy practices at an organizational level, which could turn into a comprehensive privacy program review. There are many ways one can use these checklists at their organization!

The checklists were published in 2017; nevertheless, even though the technological landscape rapidly changes year to year, many of the practices in the checklists are still good practices to follow in 2019. Take some time today to visit revisit the checklists, and think about how those checklists can help you address some of your organization’s privacy questions or issues.

“It’s complicated”: GDPR Compliance and US Libraries

Hello and welcome to the inaugural issue of Tip of The Hat! Today’s topic is the complicated relationship between GDPR compliance and US Libraries.

We mean it when we say it’s complicated.

Many academic and public libraries scrambled in 2018 to determine if they would need to comply with the European Union’s launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Some libraries, particularly academic and special libraries, are following the lead of their parent organization in deciding if they need to comply. In the case of academic libraries, some higher education institutions have satellite campuses in the European Union, making compliance almost a certainty. Public libraries find themselves wondering if they need to comply even though they do not have a physical presence in the EU. Instead, public libraries might have EU citizens with library cards (if they are visiting workers or students, for example) or otherwise have EU citizens using library resources that collect user information.

In her article for the The Privacy Advisor, Katya Kulesova, CIPP/US, lays out five questions for US organizations wondering if they fall under the scope of GDPR:

  1. Do you personalize your goods or services for EU customers?
  2. Do you target EU users with advertising campaigns?
  3. Is there an establishment in the EU that is processing personal data on your entity’s behalf?
  4. Do you monitor European users?
  5. Do you have a large customer base in the EU?

Katya explores each question, noting key gray areas that can pop up in each question. For example, does using web analytic software, such as Google Analytics, on the library website count as monitoring EU users? If you are using that data to create user profiles that would then be used to influence user behavior, you might fall under the scope of GDPR.

The best way to determine if your library needs to comply with GDPR is to talk with your legal staff . Nonetheless, GDPR case law is few and in between, and it could take a couple of years to build a solid foundation of case law surrounding GDPR enforcement. In the meantime, these questions can help you and your legal staff start the conversation about GDPR compliance.

Even if your legal staff advises that your library does not fall under the scope of GDPR, you may still want to implement some of the privacy requirements laid out in the regulation. Many state laws, including the California Consumer Privacy Act, share many similarities with GDPR. With talk of a federal privacy law in recent months, it’s only a matter of time until US libraries will need to look into revising data privacy policies and procedures to comply to state and/or federal law. Take advantage of the advanced notice GDPR is giving you and start work now on your procedures and policies – you’ll be in good standing when your library is covered under an upcoming state or federal privacy law!

A few more resources surrounding GDPR and US libraries: