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Rights to privacy and freedom of expression in public libraries : squaring the circle

McMenemy, David (2016) Rights to privacy and freedom of expression in public libraries : squaring the circle. In: IFLA World Library and Information Congress, 2016-08-13 - 2016-08-19, Greater Columbus Convention Center.

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Abstract

This paper highlights some of the tensions faced in public libraries in the United Kingdom between the desires to support patrons’ rights to privacy and freedom of expressions, versus the reality of modern practice. Considering both privacy and freedom of expression as ethical concepts, it then discusses some examples from the UK where the tensions between privacy and freedom of expression manifest in practice, including around filtering and government initiatives to tackle extremism, as well as issues around cloud storage of user data. It concludes with a discussion on how public libraries and the profession in the UK must struggle to balance the competing interests of patrons and the state, and encourages the profession to address the tensions head on by regular and rigorous debate as to the issues.