Sunday, November 2, 2008

Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act

For one of my classes we were to go through our 'home' state's confidentiality/privacy statutes pertaining to libraries and identify any changes we would like to see made. Originally I was going to analyze Oklahoma's statute, but decided to look into the statute for Illinois. From this exercise I discovered a few changes that I would like to see made to the statute.

First, the statue limits confidentiality to only registration and circulation records in the library. The issue is that patrons use many items and services provided by the library without the resource being circulated. For instance if you were to browse/read through a book without circulating the item, then that would not be considered confidential. Thus some expansion is needed. Especially as the statute does not contain any protections for electronic access to resources. As the statute reads search logs and logs of websites would not be considered confidential and thus would not need a court order for law enforcement personnel to obtain.

Second, the immunity provision given in Section 1(b-5) grants libraries immunity, but sounds as if it also grants law enforcement immunity as well. If a law enforcement officer were to ask for confidential information in a nefarious manner, the statute reads as if it also provides immunity to the law enforcement officer. This is troubling from the standpoint that an officer could abuse their power to obtain information without consequence from this statute.

Overall, the statute seems very well written. With some of the updates that I have made for my class report, I think the statute would fall into line with current thinking on confidentiality in a library.

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