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On Monday I get an unsolicited e-mail bulletin from a florist alerting me that Easter is aloof about the bend and that I should buy some flowers. The bulletin additionally reminds me that Mother’s Day is anon to follow. On Tuesday addition unsolicited e-mail tells me I ability appetite to attending at some new books and CDs hot off the press. On Wednesday a banking academy tells me it’s accepting a money sale, and on Thursday I’m told there’s a new blazon of amazon berry that would be absolute for my garden this summer. All of these were unsolicited. True, I accept visited all of these sites and either fabricated a acquirement or perused bottomward their basic aisles, but at no time did I ask to be reminded weekly or annual of anew appear articles or accessible sales. This is disturbing on several levels. First, I’ve been added to these companies’ lists without my knowledge. Second, they’ve fabricated a best for me—to ample my already overflowing mailbox with unsolicited clutter e-mail. 

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Worse yet, aback one of these companies hits adamantine times, I apprehension a little adventure in the bi-weekly about its bankruptcy. The afterward week, I get 40 e-mails instead of four—my claimed advice and purchasing habits abstracts accept been sold!   

Where Worlds Collide Our concrete and virtual worlds are colliding. We absolutely are what we eat, drink, read, and now, browse. So abounding of our circadian interactions now booty abode online, and the digital aisle we leave abaft reveals added and added of who we are and what we do; we become authentic by our online profiles fabricated up of $.25 and bytes. Even some of the food area I physically boutique now ambition to apperceive my e-mail address so they can complete my profile. The coffer knows my behavior from ATM transactions, the grocery knows what I buy through my club agenda membership, and now the Web sites area I appointment or accomplish affairs admonish me anniversary time there’s a sale. If I anytime charge an alibi, I apperceive that the aisle of cyberbanking bread crumbs advance abaft my cyberbanking affairs will fit the bill perfectly.

Webster’s defines a contour as, “a set of characteristics or qualities that analyze a type or class of actuality or thing.” A contour may be associated with an individual by several means. A actuality may voluntarily accommodate information. Or, an inference may be fabricated by accumulation abstracts like ZIP cipher and date of birth (referred to as triangulating data). Addition way is through “synchronization” with added abstracts sources area claimed advice is stored and shared with added companies (usually for a fee). Creating a user contour when the advice is not volunteered by the end-user is best generally done with cookie files, those annoying little computer files residing on your computer that the desktop and server canyon aback and forth. 

Online profiling is one of the best damaging aloofness issues on the Internet, abnormally when your agenda character is acclimated at addition armpit because your claimed information was captured in a database and again awash or aggregate with companies you’ve never heard of. There’s a growing backfire adjoin online profiling from chump advancement groups and added from anxious individuals who are bent in the battery amid ambitious added connectivity and acquisitive to advance their anonymity. 

So why should this matter to you and your library? Best states accept allowable laws that assure the aloofness of our patrons. But the Internet didn’t abide aback these kinds of laws were enacted, and they were accounting to assure angel information as it accompanying to concrete abstracts circulation. We apperceive that these same laws administer to our agenda library counterparts, but do our patrons? 

I don’t apperceive of any libraries that conduct accurate online profiling, but we do advance annal for authentication purposes, for interlibrary loan, or aback we ask assemblage to ascertain their preferences so that advice can be bigger tailored online to accommodated their needs, such as for a claimed aperture page. We abundance abundant of this information electronically in a database. Are assemblage acquainted of advice collected from our agenda library Web sites, how this advice is used, and who has access? To assure that they do apperceive how their advice is being calm and used, a library should ability a aloofness policy.   

Consider Aloofness Policies Providing a aloofness policy is not a claim for best organizations. In 1998, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) responded to the amazing backfire to online profiling and asked companies in the online industry to voluntarily explain and post their aloofness behavior in added detail. The FTC’s ambition was to make antecedent advance in creating an cyberbanking ambiance with some protection of chump privacy, and conceivably to acquiesce online companies to backpack out cocky policing as an another to acclimation an aside environment. In response, several of the industry’s abundant hitters, like Microsoft and IBM, formed an accord alleged TRUSTe to bigger brainwash the accessible and to advance “fair advice practices.” 

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According to the TRUSTe affairs (http://www.truste.org), 

If you are planning to write a aloofness statement, there are several examples aces of note. First, analysis out the action annual for Accelerate based on the TRUSTe disclosure annual at http://www.excite.com/privacy_policy. Addition archetype is not a aloofness annual at all; it’s a aloofness statement generator developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; http://www.oecd.org). The architect is accessible anon from http://cs3-hq.oecd.org/scripts/pwv3/pwhome.htm. The OECD aloofness action architect is abundantly thorough, admitting it includes some issues that accept no abode in a library environment. I’ve paraphrased some of the OECD aerial credibility you’ll appetite to abode in the sidebar below.   

Two Altered Hats Currently there is no framework to abode the abounding acknowledged issues that appear in cyberspace. Aloof to give you an idea, accede all of these areas in a non-electronic environment: trademark, copyright, liability, artifice and theft, defamation, disclosure, chase and seizure, aggression of privacy, evidence, and jurisdiction. Most are appealing tangible, right? Now accede anniversary one of these issues as it relates to the Internet. You’ll acquisition that anniversary has an absolutely different acceptation aback you try to construe it. Let’s accede one issue, jurisdiction: “the area over which ascendancy is exercised.” As e-mail letters and Web pages are beatific or downloaded about the world, how do you ascertain “territory”? 

So, let’s get aback to online profiling and chump privacy. Is this article we should be concerned about in our library environments? 

When I put on my Webmaster hat (a pointy hat with stars), my acknowledgment is “no.” From a standpoint of designing the best user-focused armpit that I can, profiling helps us to ambition casework better. Targeted casework can beggarly carrying information specific to an individual’s preferences or formatting and packaging information commitment to accommodated my end-user’s needs (like to a PDA). Or it could mean absorption products, content, and casework to serve communities, such as a accumulation with accepted interests and needs, for example, physicians. Profiling helps me architecture user-centric Web sites. 

Now let me put on my librarian’s hat. Now, my acknowledgment is “yes,” we should be anxious about online profiling and chump aloofness in our libraries. Our users accept that their privacy is adequate by law. The Internet didn’t abide aback the laws were written and allowable to accommodate aegis to those who arrested out materials. The byword “digital library” was not around, although we apperceive these aforementioned laws accommodate aegis in both our acceptable and agenda libraries. But do users apperceive this? Like abundant of today’s legislation, little case law exists to see how the laws will absolutely be activated in an cyberbanking environment. 

As the law tries to keep clip with Internet technology, we charge to assure our assemblage and ourselves, to be proactive in our organizations, and to brainwash our assemblage as best we can. A aloofness annual provides a much-needed proactive admeasurement and additionally re-emphasizes the role we comedy on annual of our patrons—that of pathfinder and trusted agent. Aloofness has consistently been a library priority. Aback we brainwash our users about aloofness we not alone advice them assure it, we also abatement our accident of accountability if aloofness is compromised.  

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Collection Limitation: The alone identifiable advice that is calm to accommodate both bearding and alone identifiable information; annual should identify what is calm including advice that cannot be angry aback to a specific actuality (this is advice you choose from your log files absorption server traffic)

Data Quality: Ensuring the candor of the abstracts calm is maintained so that it continues to be accordant to the purpose for which it was collected

Purpose of Collection: Clearly authentic purpose for accession the data, including the alpha and end dates if the abstracts is acclimated for a specific accident or project

Data Use: States how the abstracts is to be acclimated and if it will be acclimated for added purposes other than those stated

Security and Confidentiality Safeguards: The aegis procedures that are in abode to assure against the crooked access, loss, use, or abolition or modification of data

Individual Participation: States the rights of the alone to obtain, confirm, and claiming data accompanying to them personally

Organizational Information: Provides advice to visitors to accommodate the business of your organization, broadly who you serve, and the “legal article which controls the processing of claimed data”

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Use of Third-Party Web Annual Provider: Identifies area abstracts may be aggregate by third-party vendors such as an alfresco agreeable provider, Internet annual provider, or appliance annual provider. (This is acutely important in a library ambiance aback visitors are affiliated to purchased agreeable residing on a alien server.)

Automatic Collection of Information: “Information automatically collected, via accolade or added agency such as programming, may not be affiliated to an individual. However, if you articulation the advice that you abduction automatically, via cookies or added programming means, with claimed abstracts about a specific individual, your visitors should be fabricated acquainted of this.”

Technical Administration of the Web Site: Advice calm for the purpose of administrating the Web armpit such as annual login, IP, or area name

Customer Administration: Abstracts captured to accommodate casework to the chump such as annual information to action an interlibrary accommodation request, or abode advice to deliver bibliographic chase requests

Marketing: Abstracts captured in adjustment to ambition user types for content, formatting, and commitment purposes

Kim Guenther is the director for the University ofVirginia Health System Web Center and the Health System Webmaster. Her e-mail abode is guenther@virginia.edu.  

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