May 1st through 7th has been designated by the American Library Association as Choose Privacy Week, and this year it is just as relevant as ever. A recent Pew Internet study shows many American adults who go online do not have a good understanding of cybersecurity. This spring, we also read about a vote to repeal rules requiring ISPs to protect customers’ privacy.
What does privacy mean to you? Is it a place where no one is watching you or listening to what you say? Thanks to our ever-connected gadgets (our phones, computers, televisions, e-readers) such places are becoming more and more scarce. Every digital breath we take is noted, collected, and recorded for future marketing or security purposes.
Should we care? After all, we get many benefits by giving up our privacy: we receive recognition from others, we can easily share and communicate with groups of friends, we get free email. But a world without privacy is also a world where you are not free to ask questions or seek information without being monitored.
Libraries care about privacy. Why? Because, according to the American Library Association, "the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Privacy webpage is a good place to keep up to date with current privacy issues, especially in the online world. To learn more online privacy, take a look at Portland Community College’s Privacy Online guide: it includes videos and links about the ways that privacy is compromised online, and tips for how you can protect it.
If, like me, you’re more of a book person, I’ve made a reading list called “Privacy? What’s privacy?” - it includes current books that will help you start to answer that question. If you’d rather get your dystopia in a make-believe format, another reading list, “Surveillance stories and privacy parables,” includes books and DVDs about the privacy-less society that we just might be headed toward.
Are you taking steps to protect your privacy? Or have you already given up on the notion of privacy? Leave your comments below (and please feel free to do so anonymously).