Libraries and privacy leakage

Gross title, right? And privacy talk is everywhere and so ubiquitous that sometimes it can be difficult to pick through all the scary helpless noise and actually find something worth paying attention to.

Barbara Fister over at Inside Higher Ed has an eye-opening column about how libraries love to advocate for privacy (they don’t keep records of patron checkouts), but in practice, it’s a little more complicated and unsettling:

But guess what? Libraries are terrible at privacy! We put Google Analytics on our websites. We add buttons for social media platforms that feed information to third parties like woah. We don’t ask vendors why our catalogs don’t use end-to-end encryption. We get ebooks riddled with digital rights management and are shocked, shocked when it turns out Adobe is reading over our patrons’ shoulders (and sending unencrypted information about them and their reading habits over the Internet – oopsie!) Adobe is encrypting, now, but they’re still reading over your shoulder.

She has some good anti-tracking browser plugins and interesting links on the subject—I’d be interested to see a demo of Wireshark in action!

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