November 21, 2003

Privacy, Civil Liberties Groups Sign RFID Position Paper

Ripped from the Headlines! Read and think about this--we could bring this to Assembly for consideration.

"More than two dozen consumer, privacy and civil liberties groups have
endorsed a position statement on the development and use of
radio-frequency technology to track goods from the factory floor to
store shelves."

See also ALA's RFID collection:

Posted by kgs at 03:43 PM | Comments (3)

November 20, 2003

RFID at 11-2003 Program

Mairi McFall's talk on RFID, from the November 17 IF Issues Update. Great talk!

RFID – Ten things to consider:

1. Educate yourself about RFID technology. Don’t depend on what a vendor may tell you, although vendors can be good sources of information. A few useful web sites are:

a. Has official information on Radio Frequency health issues.
b. A browsable glossary of terms related to radio frequency.
c. A partnership between almost 100 companies and five research universities groups working on implementing radio frequency identification.
d. CASPIAN: Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbers. An organization concerned with privacy issues of commercial RFID use. Some of these issues are applicable to library RFID use.
e. Reports/TechNotes/Tech_Notes.htm The TechNotes site has a brief paper on RFID with links to other information.
f. A list of libraries that have bought various technology products including RFID and from whom. Links to the acquisition process are included.
g. Searching on “RFID libraries” in Google will produce a continually changing set of links, including vendors, libraries that are adopting RFID and other information.

2. Someone on your staff should be prepared to understand how the systems actually work. The more information you have about what actually happens in the transactions, the more you will be able to ask questions and answer those asked by your stakeholders, patrons, the press, staff, etc, etc.

3. When looking at issues around RFID, concentrate on those that are realistic. There are issues users may raise about RFID that we may not be able to solve. These include health concerns about the radio waves, since not enough is know about this topic at this time and how it applies to the low frequency radio waves used in RFID.

4. Many concerns about RFID are related to retail use, not library use. Retail use includes detailed information about the product and sometimes about the owner. When looking at RFID, make sure that information about your items and patrons is not on the tag.

5. Consider the choice between read only and read/write. Some part of the tag should be read only, to protect the barcode, but what information would you be putting in a read/write section?

6. Look into having some kind of minimal level of security on the RFID system. Vendors that work with libraries should and are coming up with security measures to protect patron privacy.

7. Only the barcode on the tag. If other information is on the tag, it should not identify patron or item information.

8. Examine the difference between proprietary tags and tags that follow an industry standard, which are not yet completely developed. Retail scanners might easily read tags that follow industry standard for retail. If tags follow an industry standard, make sure that steps are taken to make the tag information unreadable to scanners in public locations.

9. Continue to educate yourself, as things will continue to change.

10. Make sure there is a concerted effort to not sacrifice patron security for staff efficiency and the great benefit that RFID offers libraries. One talking point to remember is that RFID can actually increase a users privacy because self-check and automatic check-in removes staff from the process.

Posted by kgs at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

New IF Award in California

On November 14, 2003, the CLA Executive Committee approved the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award, a new state-level award. (Zoia was contacted the next day, and expressed her great pleasure with this announcement. ) Read on for the full text of the award, plus information about the nomination process and schedule.

The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award

Sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee

The California Library Association's Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors Californian people, groups, and organizations that have made significant contributions to intellectual freedom in California. The contributions to intellectual freedom do not need to be limited in impact to California.

The Awards Subcommittee of the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee selects nominees based on recent or important lifetime contributions to intellectual freedom. The Executive Committee of CLA is the final approving authority for the nomination.

The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors California librarian Zoia Horn, who in 1973 chose to serve time in jail rather than betray confidential patron information. Ms. Horn's experience sets an example of integrity over personal comfort, and has been a model discussed in library literature and shared with generations of library students everywhere. A key goal of the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is to celebrate and honor other selfless examples of commitment to intellectual freedom that help preserve free speech in an open society.


This award may be awarded annually, but there is no requirement to make this award in years when no outstanding candidate is available. The Intellectual Freedom Committee makes its nomination by September 1, and the award is announced at the CLA annual conference.

Award Amount

This award has no monetary component. Award winners will receive a certificate and be honored at the annual conference.

Approved by CLA IFC: 11-10-2003
Approved by CLA Exec Committee: 11-14-2003

Posted by kgs at 04:04 PM | Comments (2)

CLA Patriot Act Presentation Go Ahead and Worry

Presented as part of the 11-17-2003 CLA IFC Issues Update program, "Go Ahead and Worry"

Overview: Remember to spell it in ALL CAPS, so it doesn't look like you're using the word "Patriot" but rather emphasize the fact that it's an acronym. Reaction to the Act has raised awareness nationally of librarians as civil liberties advocates, and has put Intellectual Freedom in the spotlight.

What has CLA IFC done?
--Drafted a resolution taking a stand on the Act and other homeland security acts which was approved by the CLA Assembly and which has served as a model for the resolutions of other state associations and for ALA as well.
--Partnered with Southern California ACLU to create the website, and the posters and bookmarks on the need for library privacy.
--Presented forums with Rep. Bernie Sanders on his Freedom to Read Act.

What's On the Horizon?
--A huge variety of pending legislation that is meant to ameliorate or modify the Act. See
--PATRIOT II: current strategy seems to be that portions of the followup Act, which will increase the government's powers even more, are being placed into other legislation, making it much harder to track, rather than trying to get the followup act passed as a discrete body of legislation.

How Can We Stay Current?
--IFC has set up a blog in order to post updates: (But if you're reading this, you probably know that....)
--Websites to pay attention to: (Mary Minow's site) (Center for Democracy and Technology) (Bill of Rights Defense Committee) (Librarians' Index to the Internet: Patriot Act Resources) (Legal site for librarians and others)
And, to pay attention to the government side: (DOJ website on the Act)

What Do You Need from the IFC?
Let us know!! (Examples: model privacy policies; how to respond to warrants; bulletins for current awareness...)

Posted by ddodd at 03:54 PM | Comments (6)

November 17, 2003

CLA 2003 IF Issues Update

Notes forthcoming! What a great session. Thanks to Patricia and Stacy for the photos!

Posted by kgs at 07:36 PM | Comments (2)

Top Ten Tips about Internet Filters

This is one of several tip sheets for the IFC workshop on hot IF issues given at CLA Annual 2003 (Ontario).

Top Ten Tips about Internet Filters
Karen G. Schneider, IFC Chair

1. Filters block Constitutionally-protected speech. This is a fact not disputed in the CIPA decision. (The Court reasoned that disabling filters on request was an adequate remediation for this problem.)

2. CIPA only applies to E-Rate (and in some cases LSTA), and only applies for Internet connection costs. CIPA has no impact on libraries not accepting E-Rate or LSTA, or only accepting E-Rate or LSTA money for costs unrelated to Internet connections.

3. CIPA, as described in the law and unchallenged by the FCC, requires libraries to filter all computers, for staff as well as the public.

4. The Supreme Court believes it is easy for librarians to disable filters on a case-by-case basis.

5. The CIPA decision and subsequent FCC and IMLS interpretations did not clarify whether adults are legally entitled to unfiltered access on request.

6. Filters hide blocked sites in encrypted lists, eliminating accountability on their end and sunshine on our end. This was not discussed in the CIPA decision and is probably irrelevant as far as future court cases are concerned (which does not make this point unimportant).

7. At least one Supreme Court justice reasoned that litigation at the local level is an appropriate mechanism for sorting out the fuzzier areas of CIPA compliance, which raises the spectre of at least one “Son of Loudoun.”

8. CIPA did nothing to clarify First Amendment law with respect to public libraries and similar institutions, and in fact may have significantly muddied the law through its emphasis on “public forums” at the expense of exploring the less trafficked territories of "restrictions imposed on public institutions that are designed for the purpose of disseminating information," as discussed in "A Missed Opportunity," Bob Corn-Revere's article in the September issue of the Cato Supreme Court Review.

9. Because E-Rate is an after-service reimbursement, creative solutions to CIPA filtering requirements are somewhat of a crapshoot.
The technical aspects of “disabling” Internet filters were not addressed in CIPA, and the FCC did not clarify. This means it is unknown, to use two commonly-discussed examples, if it is CIPA-compliant to allow adult users to disable filters through a signed form or through self-selection on a Web screen.

10. It may seem that every library in the world is filtering, but that's not the case at all. Many libraries have chosen not to filter (and remember, CIPA doesn't give libraries much latitude for filtering). Some have chosen not to filter for philosophical reasons, and some for financial, and others for a combination of the two. We don't hear about these libraries because staying low-profile is a strategy, but nonetheless, if you aren't filtering all or most of the computers in your library, you are not alone.

Posted by kgs at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)

Welcome to Cal Freedom

Welcome to Cal Freedom, the unofficial users' blog of the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee.

The purpose of Cal Freedom is to provide a place to post late-breaking IF issues, workshop materials, interesting announcements, and other news.

The "meta-mission" of Cal Freedom is to serve as a model for committee-managed content for the California Library Association.

If you have a RSS newsreader, such as the free RSS reader, Bloglines, you can follow Cal Freedom in real time. Otherwise, check back frequently (and information of interest to CLA as an organization will be posted to CALIX as well).

Posted by kgs at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)