So that happened

I appeared in local news yesterday to talk about data privacy. Good conversation leading to a nice piece, really like the photo and quote they chose to highlight (I may be ugly as a mud fence but I do have nice hands), 10/10 would pundit again.

As they were packing up their gear, the interviewer asked whether I was surprised at having to use my knowledge of privacy technology this way. “Well, I’m a librarian,” I said, “and we have a pretty long history of navigating the authorities wanting to know what people read and watch to get them in trouble for it, so no, I’m not surprised exactly—just appalled.”

“So you think people are still safe in libraries?” was the (perfectly natural!) follow-up question.

I winced. Like, actual physical flinch. “I’m actually fighting my own profession on this one,” I said ruefully. “There’s a lot of data FOMO happening, and I don’t think it’s right, so actually that’s my research and publication focus right now.” Then I told them about UW-Madison’s twenty years of my circulation records.

I hate so much that this is the kind of answer I have to give when asked about privacy in libraries. Until librarianship cleans its house, though, it’s the only honest answer I have.