IFC Privacy Subcommittee (Intellectual Freedom Committee) Committee
DRAFT v2 - Best Privacy Practices for Ebook and Digital Content Vendors
Most ebook and digital content vendors collect and use personally identifiable information for a variety of reasons, including digital rights management, consumer analytics, and user personalization. Libraries and vendors must work together to ensure that contracts and licenses reflect library policies and legal obligations concerning user privacy and confidentiality. Agreements should address appropriate restrictions on the use, aggregation, retention, dissemination, and sale of personally identifiable information, particularly information about minors. Vendor products and services should have privacy concerns “built in, not bolted on.”
Clear Privacy Policies
It is critical that vendor privacy policies be made easily available and understandable to users when accessing their product or service. Safeguarding user privacy requires that individuals know what personally identifiable information is gathered about them, how long it is stored, who has access to it and under what conditions, and how it is used. There should be a way to notify ongoing users of any changes to the vendor's privacy policies.
The vendor should give users options as to how much personally identifiable information is collected from them and how it may be used. Users should be able to access content anonymously by having the ability to opt-in or opt-out of features and services that require the collection of personal information.
Access to Personal Data
Users should have the right to access and verify the accuracy of their own personal information. Verifying accuracy helps ensure that vendor services that rely on personally identifiable information can function properly. Users should be able to delete their own personal information if they no longer wish to use the vendor’s products or services which depend on such information. Guidance on how the user can access their personal data should be clear and easy to find.
Access to personal information should be restricted to the user. Right to access should also address instances in which age may be a factor. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) provides for "a parent's ability to review, make changes to, or have deleted the child's personal information."
Data Integrity & Security
Whenever personally identifiable information is collected, the vendor must take reasonable steps to ensure integrity and security, including compliance with applicable legal requirements such as COPPA for minors and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for students.
Security: Security involves both managerial and technical measures to protect against loss and the unauthorized access, destruction, use, or disclosure of data. Security measures should be integrated into the design, implementation, and day-to-day practices of the vendor's entire operating environment as part of its continuing commitment to risk management. The vendor should seek compliance with published cybersecurity standards from organizations such as National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Encryption: The use of data encryption helps enhance privacy protection. All online transactions between client applications (web browsers, mobile apps, etc.) and server applications should be encrypted. In addition, any personally identifiable information housed by the vendor off site (cloud-based infrastructure, tape backups, etc.) should use encrypted storage.
Anonymization: Data used for customer analytics and other types of analysis should be anonymized by removing or encrypting personally identifiable information. While data anonymization is a good practice, it is not foolproof (reidentification analysis has been used to identify individuals from anonymized data sets); therefore access should still be restricted.
Retention: Personally identifiable information should not be retained in perpetuity. The vendor should establish policies for how long to retain different types of data and methods for securely destroying data that is no longer needed. For example, accounts that are expired or inactive for a certain amount of time should be purged. Retention policies should also cover archival copies and backups.
Data Sharing: If a vendor shares or sells personally identifiable information to other parties, it should be clearly described in the licensing agreements with libraries and in the privacy policies published for end users. It has become common practice for businesses to share data including personally identifiable information with cloud providers, third-party middleware vendors, and other business associates. The vendor should develop procedures to carefully vet and monitor these associates to ensure they are in compliance with the vendor's privacy policies.
Government Requests: The vendor should develop and implement procedures for dealing with government and law enforcement requests for personally identifiable information. The vendor should only consider a government or law enforcement request if it is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that shows good cause and is in proper form. The vendor should inform users through their privacy policies about the legal conditions under which they might be required to release personally identifiable information.
Company Sale, Merger, or Bankruptcy: In the event that the vendor is sold to another company, merges with another company, or is dissolved through bankruptcy, all personally identifiable information should be securely destroyed, or libraries and their end users must be notified and given the opportunity to request that their data be securely destroyed.
Privacy protections for personally identifiable information should extend to the user's device, including the web browser or any applications provided by the vendor. Communications between the user's device and the vendor's services that contain personally identifiable information should be encrypted. If the vendor's website employs personalization technology such as web browser cookies or allows third-party web tracking, it should inform the user and give them the chance to opt-in or opt-out. If a vendor-provided application stores personally identifiable information on the user's device, it should be encrypted. The user should be able to remove a vendor-provided application and delete any data it stored on the device.
Audit & Notification
A vendor that develops privacy policies needs to establish and maintain an effective mechanism to enforce them. They should conduct regular privacy audits to ensure that all operations and services comply with these policies. The results of these audits should be made available upon request to libraries that are customers or potential customers. A vendor that suffers a breach in their privacy policies through inadvertent dissemination or data theft should notify the effected libraries and users in a timely manner.