EFA’s Five Substantive Principles – Endorsement!

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As part of grassroots efforts to stand for digital rights and related intellectual freedoms, I want to promote EFA’s five substantive principles:

  1. free expression: people should be able to speak their minds to whomever will listen.
  2. security: technology should be trustworthy and answer to its users.
  3. privacy: technology should allow private and anonymous speech, and allow users to set their own parameters about what to share with whom.
  4. creativity: technology should promote progress by allowing people to build on the ideas, creations, and inventions of others.
  5. access to knowledge: curiosity should be rewarded, not stifled

I endorse these principles with the support of a few of my collaborators. In particular, Brandon Smith, independent journalist, and George Walker, technologist and consultant.

#Privacy Chat, May 2019

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Privacy Week 2019

Jesse Lambertson … will discuss his top five recommendations for digital freedom!

6 May 2019 / 7-8:30 PM

Kate Waller Branch of Alexandria Public Library / 717 Queen St. Alexandria, VA 22314

Information here.

Privacy Workshop (27 April 2019)

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RE: my upcoming #privacy workshop : April 2711:30-13:00.

Location: Mt. Pleasant Public Library

3160 16th St. NW. ; Washington,  D.C.  20010

Found on the interwebs somplace…

Tis one thing to talk about privacy and intellectual freedom in the abstract, but do we connect these notions explicitly to concrete digital literacy? The aim of this workshop is to reveal, frankly, how some information is “read” in computers, how persons can better educate themselves and their friends & family in the area of digital privacy so each person can take his or her knowledge beyond simply content into the realm of digital context. This aim brings together the direct-action option of making a few adjustments to a user’s app settings by embracing a revised model of lifelong learning. The result more fully integrates the user’s own use of digital tools and their training of others to simultaneously provide better privacy and to educate each person about using digital tools more intentionally – even mindfully

Register for free here.

Mindfulness in Privacy Poster (#CUALIS19)

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On Friday 08 February 2019, I presented a poster on privacy at the 11th Annual Bridging the Spectrum Symposium – I attempted to use a ‘mindfulness’ metaphor and did a lightning talk on the subject.

T’was fun for me – I hope everyone else had as much fun as me. I kept the poster mostly text-free in order to prioritize conversation.

Thank you to Catholic University of America and the Department of Library and Information Science.

#Copyright and #CopyrightX

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Good morning everyone.

I am planning to apply to the Harvard law School / HarvardX / Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University’s networked course, CopyrightX.

The application process involves several long questions to justify interest, sort of like a personal statement when applying to graduate school.

Has anyone out there applied to this course in the past who would be willing to offer any advice?

Thank you in advance,


Surveillance & Privacy Publication at Library Journal

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My collection development article, Careful, You’re Being Watched: Surveillance & Privacy, has just been published at Library Journal.

The print edition is out in August and will feature more information and resources.

Please click on over to read this version and subscribe to Library Journal or head on over to your local library to peruse the print.

Thank you for reading.


#Privacy in Consumer Communications and #Information Searches

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I believe privacy in information access and communication is part & parcel to engagement in full intellectual freedom.


Connected with a recent Pew Research Center survey on privacy, The Future of Privacy, Digital Life in 2025,  Hal Varian, Chief Economist for Google said something to the affect that users are so in love with convenience that they will fully accept their transactions and access to the network being monitored.


If that was the case, we would not see an increase in the use of privacy based Web browsers such as DuckDuckGo, StartPage and of course increase in Tor usage.

startp_logo     tor-the-onion1

These are protocols and browsers that have found various ways of accessing the open web by submitting queries in ways that are not connected to your IP address etc. I recommend you look into each on of the above systems to see which will work for you.*

The other aspect of Varian’s “convenience” justification for being monitored by corporations and governments is the routine scanning and reading of communications in e-mail, chat and video-conversations.

Google offers “free” e-mail, chat and video conversation technologies under their banner. But these are all data-tracking (and content reading) systems.** Even Microsoft’s Skype is not secure.


But there are a wide array of encryption packages (that are free right now) for e-mail and chat. One such package for e-mail is, Enigmail OpenPGP (there are others, but I use this one: and OTR Chat, which stands for Off-The-Record. These work with client-based applications so encryption is done on the machine at hand and decrypted at the destination machine by the person intended to receive it. This is referred to as end-to-end encryption (E2EE).

I bring up these few examples of applications being developed that use the internet to accomplish all the same goals as main-stream internet use, but in methods that prioritize privacy and the right the be left alone on one’s own pursuits of life, liberty and happiness in order to highlight one single important idea>

Why can’t these same companies or others develop products to sell that work in the same way as these open-source privacy-advocacy projects? Think about it. Google sells applications for e-mail, websites, etc through their Google Apps programs. But all these also collect data and read e-mails. I don’t see why a convenient (to counter Varian’s above point) product can’t be sold at a profit by these same companies: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! that would also encrypt to enhance privacy of e-mail and communication.

Maybe information wants to be free. I can’t say. But, obviously, “information,” according to the model to which we are used to living, operates under a for-profit model. This means that even as communications technologies could be sold (we are already paying for internet access in some way), routine access to information sources on the Internet in an encrypted, private mode might also need to be built on a for-pay model. Right now, those same information searches are being gathered so somebody else can make money. I think we might need to realize that “information” is a product in some format.

As consumers, we should be able to choose to reject the internet as a whole, or…in the name of convenience, might have to choose to accept a small payment to access the Networked world’s vast information sources in privacy and true intellectual freedom.

There are already a few examples of companies looking for profit while even building technologies that encourage privacy and the right to be completely “forgotten” by server logs. Laws and/or technology must not out-step each other. DuckDuckGo uses general advertising in the browser and StartPage submits anonymizing queries through its servers to Google (which is an attempt to accept the convenience of the Google search model). There are ways to make money even while the Web is accessed in anonymously.

The next step is e-mail. I already mentioned Enigmail OpenPGP above, a client-based encryption program that uses a pre-existing e-mail account to encrypt using a desk-top client. This is “free” software that uses an account that already exists. All e-mail submitted through the encryption client is sent encrypted so the host servers can’t read it. But StartPage has been working on a subscription e-mail service called Startmail that I think function on the same encryption standards as as GPG encryption (please read further on this if you are so inclined). They have released a whitepaper on the technical aspects of their e-mail project linked here.

I hope to suggest there are modes of producing a profit even while respecting one’s human dignity and privacy. With that intention, I have included a few companies that are working with that agenda. We need not give up on all privacy for the sake of convenience.

At the level of the library: academic, public an special libraries alike, all can find ways of formatting technologies and services with privacy and intellectual freedom re-centralized.

I challenge this conversation to take the next level.

Thank you for reading.

Jesse L.


* I must add the caveat that when people use anonymizing technologies to access the world of networked information (the Internet), they must also conform to the technical requirements to support that anonymization. Some changes must be made.

** Please read Google’s privacy policy here.

Requesting Comments on USA FREEDOM Act

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(Image courtesy of Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin’s 5th District <accessed 20 Feb 2014>)

I am formally requesting personal or “official” comments and responses to The USA FREEDOM Act.

The USA FREEDOM Act states it would install oversight on FISA, data collection and, hopefully, NSLs.

Please leave comments here, e-mail jesse (at) or chat at Twitter.

Thank you for reading.

Jesse L.



#Metadata Production and Privacy in Libraries

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#Libraries and Social Media Pt. 2: Metadata Production and Privacy*

(A Thought-in-Progress)

By Jesse A Lambertson

Social Media Applications

In a previous post, I tried to gather my thoughts on the state of library-use of SOCIAL media and web 2.0 technologies and applications. There are so many in use I did not feel the need to list all of them in that post, just draw attention to their existence within the system and flow of information organization from different type of libraries.

I produced a list here (where you can find the link to download my reference sheet) of major and minor OSNs (Online Social Networks) platforms and their statements on either advertising structure, their mining of user-data and privacy. Obviously, these platforms and applications are used in a much wider context than libraries and cultural heritage institutions. In my search around the internet in English, I found a lot of applications that I’d never heard of before. I am positive other countries and other languages have developed their own.  I would be happy to receive information on any SOCIAL platforms from around the world or any others I missed in my collecting. If you find any, please e-mail the links to jesse (at) or reply below. Thank you much.

These applications are mostly free (in certain versions) to their users – though most also have advertisements either built into the applications from their creation or from other more traditional modes such as pay-per-advertisement models which promote or push that promoted content toward the top of a feed, add it to a video, add it to a certain page etc. This is not a bad thing. When people get together and invest in their ideas, they do so often with the intent to make money. The model now, across some investment areas, is to offer free tools and applications which are paid for either by direct advertising or the selling of metadata and some user data to clearinghouses that deal in such a thing. Many people have commented on this fact as being the most profitable feature of SOCIAL media applications and web 2.0 technologies. I won’t compile those articles here, but this is an area for future information collection.


American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) (librarians are well versed in the use of acronyms) has made several statements and resolutions on one’s use of a library with freedom to pursue all angles of ideas and that their freedom to pursue such ideas should be protected from unwarranted surveillance by polices and routines designed to hide user data from anyone other than the library user and the librarians who assist and provide reference services. This last part is mostly out of necessity because librarians work in libraries (of course). The ALA OIF has made statements viewable here and here on the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) justified by the USA PATRIOT Act and its renewal/reauthorization in which they do not deny the use, theoretically, of NSLs, but rather that the Letters are submitted only with very specific evidentiary requirements.  The ALA OIF states, “WHEREAS, the ALA is committed to preserving the privacy rights of all persons in the United States, especially library users and library employees…” I mention this statement, and link to the ALA OIF, not to rage against NSLs, but to get the conversation into the open about privacy and one’s use of the library. Issues of national security NSLs and governmental control/collection of user data in libraries a connected but separate topic – one I have touched upon here in this draft-like student whitepaper from University of Illinois’ DSpace digital repository.

Conflict of Interests

I see a conflict of interest inherent in the system right now with regards to increased traffic on ISNs, user-generated content and library’s encouragement of new media. All media is new when it comes out, but we love our terms. Everyone must categorize and provide schema for knowledge. This is why we like libraries – to put forth tools and thinking processes on how to work our way through the ever increasing subject areas and specializations. But categories and organization models have been in-use in libraries, both special and public, for a long time now and won’t go away with the internet. In fact, talk to any coder and page designer and you will hear about the increased use of tags, keywords and indexing – all of which fall under various definitions of use, value and debate themselves – depending on trends and context. Much of this has to do with the context of machine read information systems. But this context is precisely the point here. My context is libraries and their seemingly complete embrace of digital tools encouraging library users to “connect,” “engage,” and “interact.”

The very nature of these words changes in the internet age. No problems here. Words change. Have doubts about that? Head on down to your local library and access their subscription to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) – which you will need to do because that dictionary, the gold standard of English usage and its history, is only available via subscription and is no longer available in print. Once a user has gotten access to a digital tool, there are records of these connections and usage metadata. Some of this will never be escaped for the reason that libraries also need to exhibit their use and tools like the OED use that to market their value. This fact might be conundrum. But one thing about subscription databases is that they are making money by subscription models instead of simply by collecting data by users of free applications and selling that data through the clearinghouses I mentioned above. As the “market” model gathers more and more steam in areas where it was not the regime, we could easily see an uptick in data collection, sharing policies and privacy issues. Time will tell.

But from the point of view of library users and OSNs, most libraries sign off on ALA’s privacy statements (the ones I linked to above) by joining ALA’s membership ranks. These privacy policies in current popular discussion are dealing mostly with NSLs, now the NSA, Section 215 of the USA PATIOT Act and new variants of Total Information Awareness. But I see a slightly more insidious context developing in this current context. OSN’s make no bones about their advertising and their corporate for-profit structure and legal status. Good thing too. When someone starts a business, they want to do with it what it takes to make the most profit from it they are able to make. Carry onward. But libraries are not structured with this legal and declared ideology. If anything, there is one statement after another with the intent to show libraries exist to allow for the move into a different direction. But these same libraries advocate the embrace of OSNs and web 2.0 applications to accomplish the goals I mentioned above, engagement, connection and interactivity. Except, the very use of these technologies now monetizes personal activity online, shreds even thinner the demarcation of privacy between person and their intellectual pursuits and moves that data to more and more interested parties way outside of any one OSN or library “interactive” instance. The ALA has information about usage of OSNs here – including a PPT here which highlights some of these points.

I see this single point and its as yet un-elucidated sub-points as a major conflict of interest for library usage and patron visits. And there are so many reasons to go to libraries. Not all those need to be marked in databanks and sold.

Please take heed. More will come on this in the future.

Thank you for reading.

Jesse L.

*All links and sources associated with this post were rechecked as of 07 February 2014.

If anyone wants to converse on this topic, don’t hesitate to e-mail me above or submit your information below.