Using “ontological friction” to achieve privacy in libraries

Luciano Floridi envisages “Ontological friction”  as referring to the forces that oppose the information flow within (a region of) the infosphere, and hence (as a coefficient) to the amount of work required for a certain kind of agent to obtain information

Utilising the typology of privacy by Koops et al (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2754043) I have tried in the table below to think of examples for each of the privacy categories, and for these to be relevant to the work of the library & information sector.

This is very much a work in progress, because I have only just started to think of it in terms of the privacy classifications used by Koops et al. So by all means if you have any comments or feedback, do let me know (@priv_lib).

Typology of privacy & ontological friction
Privacy classification Descriptions Examples of ontological friction
Bodily privacy Direct and indirect invasions of bodily integrity. An indirect physical intrusion would cover use of facial recognition system, as it enables information to be obtained about a person’s body without physical contact.
Use of fingerprints as a means of authentication in a school library (to do so compulsorily and against the will of the pupil would contravene the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012).
Spatial privacy Privacy expectations in and around one’s home (& possibly also the workplace). Privacy screens around bookable public access computers. Thick walls/partitions between the different functions in a shared services building (co-location of library, customer services, housing etc). Level of friction can be determined by thickness of walls, use of glass for the partitions etc.
Communicational privacy Someone violates this type of privacy by, for example, intercepting personal communications (such as opening or reading mail or using bugs), eavesdropping, or accessing stored communications without consent The level of informational friction will be determined by the type of communication used – such as verbal communication, email, social networking
Proprietary privacy Reputational, & image management Librarian bloggers being respectful of user privacy if they write blog posts, books, or articles which cover their interactions with patrons (the “Refgrunt” genre).
Intellectual privacy Privacy of thought and mind, development of opinions and beliefs. Records of intellectual activity in hands of 3rd party vendors. “Social reading”: automatic disclosure of reading habits to one’s friends  gives internet users suggestions of new and interesting things to read. Care over use of embedded content, specifically book covers in library catalogues, to ensure you aren’t leaking catalog searches to Amazon. No right to possess stolen library books.
Decisional privacy Concerns the freedom to make decisions about one’s body and family. Decisional privacy involves matters such as contraception, procreation, abortion and child rearing. Freedom from interference in one’s personal choices, plans, and decisions. School library banning books on sensitive topics such as abortion, homosexuality, sexual intercourse etc.
Associational privacy Freedom to connect with whomever or with whichever group one chooses without being monitored Library recruiters undertaking invasive and unnecessary background checks which capture sensitive information about the respondents’ affiliations and memberships
Behavioural privacy Activities that happen in both public and private places, and encompasses sensitive issues Banning filming in the library without permission. Requirement to keep conversational levels low or quiet
Informational privacy Encompassing information/data/facts about persons or their communications Use of https:// on library websites

 

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