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Prepared by Leslie Harris & Associates
Welcome to the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy's online course on Online Privacy. This tutorial will help librarians to understand the range of privacy issues, especially those arising as libraries provide Internet access and electronic services to patrons. Additionally, this tutorial will suggest best practices for safeguarding patron privacy.  By the conclusion of this course, we hope you will be confident that you can recognize potential privacy problems as they arise, assist patrons of all ages in protecting their own privacy, and take steps to ensure that your library acts responsibly to protect patron privacy. 

This tutorial will cover a broad range of issues including:

   Libraries and Online Privacy

   New Challenges to Privacy 

   Privacy and the Library Profession 

    Constitutional Origin of the Right to Privacy

   Federal Statutory Limitations on the Right to Privacy

   Introduction to Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

   Implications of COPPA for Public Libraries

   Children and Privacy in School Libraries 

   The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 

   State Limitations on Privacy 

   Law Enforcement and Patron Privacy 

   The USA Patriot Act

   Recommended Procedures for Law Enforcement Visits 

   Role of Libraries in Protecting User Privacy and Confidentiality

   Online Data Collection 

   What is Personally Identifiable Information?

   Tools Used for Collecting Online Data

   Implications of Online Data Collection for Librarians 

   Managing Cookies

   Privacy Enhancing Tools

   Network Security

   Privacy Policies on Consumer Web Sites

   The Distinction Between Opt-in and Opt-out

   Creating a Privacy Policy

   What is a Privacy Audit

   Conducting a Privacy Audit  

    Tips for Protecting Privacy Online  

This tutorial is intended to provide librarians with a real- world understanding of privacy rights as policies and technologies continue to evolve. It is critical that librarians understand the privacy implications of providing Internet access to patrons, management of Internet use, as well as how to work with law enforcement agencies, and their changing responsibilities to their patrons. Each segment of this tutorial will include additional reference material for those readers interested in learning more about a particular privacy topic. 
Further information:

ALA's Privacy Resources Page:  

The Federal Trade Commission's Privacy Initiatives Page:  

Privacy Journal:  
Copyright 2002, American Library Association, Office for 
Information Technology Policy
This Online Privacy Tutorial is a service of the American Library Association. The content of this tutorial is primarily the work of Leslie Harris & Associates in Washington, DC. The views expressed in these messages are not necessarily the views of ALA or Leslie Harris & Associates. This tutorial is for information only and will not necessarily provide answers to concerns that arise in any particular situation. This service is not legal advice and does not include many of the technical details arising under certain laws. If you are seeking legal advice to address specific privacy issues, you should consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.