Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Libraries as a safe haven" #wlic2013

In the FAIFE session at the IFLA World library and Information Conference in Singapore I will report next on the talk 10 trends of internet censoship revisited from PÄIVIKKI KARHULA (Researcher, Chief Information Specialist at Parliament of Finland). The original 10 Trends paper was produced last year and is here
The speaker ideantified that censorship no longer just means filtering: it also means tracking, monitoring, data storage and collection, data mining (in other words finding out what you do in great detail and giving that information who know who), sanctioning, blocking and slowing down connections. She identified international pressure and support, and (e.g.) although the European Union countries prohibit export of surveillance technology to totalitarian countries is forbidden, EU countries have not supported Edward Snowden.
The criminalisation of everyday life - with routine monitoring of people's activities and people becoming targets if their activity deviates from "normal" - has become more and more of a concern.
In terms of libraries (which should be a "safe haven"), mass data collection is an increasing issue, especially as the data collected (e.g. on e-books) may be out of the libraries' control. She mentioned the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
The speaker identified this power transfer to those who own and manage big data as a major concern. What are the consequences? There is non-transperency and apparently unlimited scope. She felt that there should be proper governance for these activities. However, for the moment, we know there will be new forms of surveillance.
Libraries need to redefine their ideas of freedom of information - to include safe access to communicate, search and use information on the internet. What can be done? Libraries need to be involved in development of technology, have impact on the marketplace and legislation, and pay attention to their own policies and practice. Karhula also urged librarians to support campaigns and to join with activities such as those of FAIFE. She also mentioned other organisations e.g.

Karhula reccommended: Davies, S. (2013) "Analysis: Eight global repercussions from the PRISM disclosures ".

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