NISO Press Release: NISO Releases a Set of Principles to Address Privacy of User Data in Library, Content-Provider, and Software-Supplier Systems

NISO Announce niso-announce at NISO.ORG
Mon Dec 14 14:18:46 EST 2015

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*NISO Releases a Set of Principles to Address Privacy of User Data in
Library, Content-Provider, and Software-Supplier Systems*

Baltimore, MD – December 14, 2015 - The National Information Standards
Organization (NISO) has published a set of consensus principles for the
library, content-provider and software-provider communities
<> to address privacy issues related to
the use of library and library-related systems.  This set of principles
developed over the past 8 months focus on balancing the expectations
library users have regarding their intellectual freedoms and their privacy
with the operational needs of systems providers.

The NISO Privacy Principles, available at, set forth a core set of
guidelines by which libraries, systems providers and publishers can foster
respect for patron privacy throughout their operations.  The Principles
outline at a high level basic concepts and areas which need to be addressed
to support a greater understanding for and respect of privacy-related
concerns in systems development, deployment, and user interactions.  The
twelve principles covered in the document address the following topics:
Shared Privacy Responsibilities; Transparency and Facilitating Privacy
Awareness; Security; Data Collection and Use; Anonymization; Options and
Informed Consent; Sharing Data with Others; Notification of Privacy
Policies and Practices; Supporting Anonymous Use; Access to One’s Own User
Data; Continuous Improvement and Accountability.

The Preamble of the Principles notes that, "Certain personal data are often
required in order for digital systems to deliver information, particularly
subscribed content. Additionally, user activity data can provide useful
insights on how to improve collections and services. However, the
gathering, storage, and use of these data must respect the trust users
place in libraries and their partners. There are ways to address these
operational needs while also respecting the user’s rights and expectations
of privacy."

"Working collaboratively through a set of open meetings and discussion
forums, a team of librarians, publishers and systems providers crafted
these principles,” said Todd Carpenter, NISO's Executive Director.  “This
fact distinguishes this effort from other privacy-related efforts in our
community.  By working together to deeply grasp the foundational nature of
respect for patron privacy among suppliers as well as to understand the
operational needs and product development process among the library
community, the team was able to come to a nuanced understanding of the
related issues.  This joint effort allowed for the creation of a balanced
set of principles, which achieve the common goal of providing the best
possible user experience built from its core with respect for privacy.”

Organizations and individuals are encouraged to provide public comments on
the NISO Privacy Principles, as well as register their support for the
principles, on the NISO website.  Additional work in the coming year is
envisioned to make these high-level principles operational for publishers,
content-providers and software suppliers.

This project was generously supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation. More information about the project, including presentations,
recordings of the virtual and in-person meetings, and other background
information may be found at

*About the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)*

NISO fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate
the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of
information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To
fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information
aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and
scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of
knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across
the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit
association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
More information about NISO is available on its website:


Todd Carpenter
NISO Executive Director


tcarpenter at


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