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  • Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals by Cherie L. Givens
  • David B. Levy
Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals, Cherie L. Givens. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. 127 pages. $45.00 (ISBN 978-1-4422-2881-8)

Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals raises questions about the proper balance between ensuring security and safeguarding liberty. For librarians and information professionals, a concern for protecting intellectual [End Page 445] freedom and civil liberties means taking privacy and personally identifiable information seriously. Author Cherie L. Givens argues that if information professionals do not fully embrace information privacy and our rights to confidentiality in both word and deed, outside institutional interests will impose privacy policies and practices on us. Givens is an attorney and certified information privacy professional with experience developing privacy policies and procedures for the Library Services and Content Management unit of the U.S. Government Publishing Office. This book provides an introduction to information privacy laws and practices and incorporates practical privacy information relevant to the workplace. In addition to librarians and information professionals, it will interest academic administrators, civil liberties organizations, political think tanks, policy makers, and national security personnel.

Givens understands that concerns about privacy are not new but that rapid changes in technology such as data mining and surveillance drones have increased the reach of governments, businesses, and individuals when tracking, monitoring, recording, spying, or stealing personal information. Such information includes medical health records (protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA), personal finances, employment information, education history (protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA), and online activities. Questions of unlawful, inaccurate, compromising, and unauthorized disclosure of personal data have become urgent. The frequent accounts in both popular media and professional venues of deceptive privacy policies, data breaches, secret collecting, and large-scale spying provide clear reasons to defend information privacy. As Givens notes, changes in law and technology have made what was once unthinkable—pervasive surveillance of individuals—a reality. She warns that available technologies render even the most careful individuals vulnerable to breaches of private information, putting our privacy, professional reputations, and free exercise of civil liberties increasingly at risk.

Providing a foundation of privacy law and practice, Givens’s book is also a clarion call—in an age of technological revolution and political fear and suspicion—for individuals to understand how to protect their privacy online. This can be accomplished in small ways, such as disenabling cookies on a browser, questioning the terms and conditions for websites and smartphone apps, staying alert to phishing scams, or using caution when conducting online transactions. More broadly, protecting privacy online also includes pressing for more effective workplace policies and public legislation.

I highly recommend Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals. It is a well-written, carefully organized, and insightful book on applying the laws, regulations, and best practices for managing personal data. It can be read cover to cover or dipped into for quick reference, consulting relevant chapters for specific areas of privacy law and practice. Cherie L. Givens joins other scholars who have written on this subject, such as Alan F. Westin (Privacy and Freedom, New York: Atheneum, 1967); Richard Sennett (The Fall of Public Man, New York: Knopf, 1976); Jeffrey Rosen (The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America, New York: Random House, 2000); Jonathan Zit-train (The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008); Daniel J. Solove (Understanding Privacy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University [End Page 446] Press, 2008), and Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes (Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011). Information Privacy Fundamentals for Librarians and Information Professionals is a valuable contribution to our knowledge on privacy and moves the conversation in the right direction.

David B. Levy
Chief Librarian
Touro College
New York City


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 445-447
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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