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.

Welcome to Tattle Tape!

It’s not pretty (I have a lot of CSS work to do), and it’s not really ready for prime time, but here we go anyway. Hi, I’m Dorothea Salo, and welcome to Tattle Tape.

Tattle Tape is a blog that will (mostly) be about patron and staff privacy in library contexts. (I’m a noisy person with a lot of professional interests. I know myself pretty well. I will blog about other things now and then. Might as well admit that to myself and everyone else.) It’s named after magnetic strips placed in library books that set off security gates, which tattle on possible thieves of library materials.

A few things are worth setting out at the, as it were, outset, by way of expectations management:

  • Tattle Tape is my blog. I’m not blogging at anybody else’s behest. What you read here is on me and nobody else—especially not any employer I have ever had or any project with which I have ever been associated.
  • Comments are off on most posts. I may occasionally open them. I can be found in the fediverse (Mastodon etc.) at for those who are so inclined.
  • I am not nice. I have never been nice. I never will be nice. Nice does not appear among my goals for Tattle Tape. In particular, I have every intention of naming names with respect to publicly-perceptible privacy issues in libraries. If you published it, disseminated it publicly online (as with presentation slides, whitepapers, or whathaveyou), or I can find it out from your website by something as simple as clicking on UBlock Origin or Privacy Badger, it is fair game for Tattle Tape. (That said, I’m not a pentester or webapp bughunter, and if I were, I certainly wouldn’t do it for free. Your secrets are safe from me.)
  • Speaking of which: Part of the CSS work I need to do is getting rid of Google Fonts use in this blog theme. (I will do my best to get that taken care of this week.) Beyond that, other than ordinary Apache logging which I pay zero attention to and delete regularly, there is no logging or other tracking on Tattle Tape (nor the site it is part of), nor will there ever be unless someone hacks the site. I’m a librarian. My library school learned me real good about privacy. I don’t sell, much less donate, my readers to Big Data.

I can’t promise much by way of posting schedule. I’ll spare you the boring litany of busy, but yes, I’m overcommitted and barely staying afloat just now, and that doesn’t look like easing up real soon.

I know some useful things, though, and when I can make time, I’ll share them. Welcome to Tattle Tape.