Librarianship at the Crossroads of ICE Surveillance by Sarah Lamdan (In the Library with the Lead Pipe)

As a fellow librarian, I’m here to warn you: ICE is in your library stacks. Whether directly or indirectly, some of the companies that sell your library research services also sell surveillance data to law enforcement, including ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Companies like Thomson Reuters and RELX Group (formerly Reed Elsevier), are supplying billions of data points, bits of our personal information, updated in real time, to ICE’s surveillance program. Our data is being collected by library vendors and sold to the police, including immigration enforcement officers, for millions of dollars.

This article examines the privacy ethics conundrum raised by contemporary publishing models, where the very services libraries depend upon to fill their collections endanger patron privacy. In the offline world of paper collections and library stacks, librarians adhere to privacy ethics and practices to ensure intellectual freedom and prevent censorship. But librarians are unprepared to apply those same ethical requirements to digital libraries. As our libraries transition to largely digital collections, we must critically assess our privacy ethics for the digital era. Where are the boundaries of privacy in libraries when several “data services” corporations that also broker personal data own the lion’s share of libraries’ holdings?

Read more here. In related news: 5 GitHub employees resigned over the company's ICE contract, as reported by Vice.