Edited text of a letter sent to the Information Commissioner concerning data stored on printers connected to library computer systems.

ref: intern28  21 Oct 02

People's Network (PN) computer systems in Devon libraries

I refer to my letter of 15 Sept and your interim reply of 24 Sept., ref: PB/JDW/02-29870/06

I wish to bring to your attention some further information.

On the PN (People's Network) computers in Devon Libraries the printers are set up so that only librarians can operate them. The procedure for printing is to initiate it from the PC that you are using and then go to the control desk where the printer is situated. A librarian will then print the material (having no regard whatever for privacy as he/she peruses the pages before handing them to you) and you can then leave the library taking your bank statement (or other possibly confidential material) with you.

Some hours later, the same material can by accident or design be reprinted despite that no authority has been given for its retention on the library control computer. The system is set up so that print jobs are only cleared at the end of the day or week (I am not sure which) and there is an obvious problem with confidentiality especially in small towns where 'everyone knows everyone' and may have some interest in the stored material.

Although this is a concern raised in numbered paras 35 to 38 of my letter intern2 of 22 August (copied to you as an e-mail attachment) I only became aware of a specific problem when I saw material being displayed on a library control computer that was from a 'previous' print job, the owner of the material having long since left the library.

I consider it is unsatisfactory for possibly private material to be stored on a computer system in this way without the knowledge of its 'owner' and would appreciate your comments on what has become a matter of public interest.


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