Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join now
Promoting and defending the right to privacy


Promoting and defending the right to privacy

I am a member of CILIP. I have therefore signed up to the CILIP Ethical Principles. I can say: “as an ethical Information Professional I [have made] a commitment to uphold, promote and defend:

  • human rights […];
  • intellectual freedom, including freedom from censorship; […]
  • the confidentiality of information provided by clients or users and the right of all individuals to privacy”.

We library and information professionals stand for freedom of information and freedom of expression; and privacy is essential for citizens to make full use of those rights.

Privacy is about making an informed choice

This said, many citizens do not think their online privacy is very important; often because they do not fully understand how their personal information is collected and used. Privacy should be about choice: people need to be aware of the risks to their personal data and of the tools that may help them protect it better; so they can make an informed choice about whether to take steps to actively protect their privacy.

What we can do

Many of us already enable citizens to learn skills. We should be providing resources and organising activities for people to learn about online privacy issues and about privacy-conscious practices and tools.

We also need to ensure we practice what we preach and take steps to ensure our internal processes and systems are privacy-friendly. Leading the Way - a guide to privacy for public library staff aims to support colleagues in doing just that. It is specifically aimed at public library staff, with examples from Newcastle Libraries, but many points will be useful for colleagues in other library and information sectors. It provides information on privacy issues such as:

  • data protection and data retention;
  • the security of systems and websites;
  • the layout of the library.

The guide proposes practical steps for all of us to improve the way citizens’ privacy is protected in our organisations. It contains suggestions on engaging colleagues with the topic and working with ICT colleagues and systems suppliers.

Taking a stand

Citizens should be in a position to make informed decisions when it comes to using library and information services. I believe we should go further than respecting the privacy of our users: we should be taking a stand for it. We cannot be neutral; in order for libraries to remain safe spaces and for library staff to remain trusted professionals we must adopt a proactive attitude to protecting citizens’ privacy.

Whichever library or information sector you work in, I would encourage you to read the Leading the Way guide. Be better informed, uphold your values, provoke discussions – and start making changes for the better, one step at a time.





More from Information Professional



In depth





This reporting is funded by CILIP members. Find out more about the


Benefits of CILIP membership




Sign Up for our non member newsletter
Contact us