How can you take back control of your personal information? We have a plan. Join us.
Posted by Note to Self Radio on Monday, January 30, 2017
In a time when one in five Americans are online “almost constantly,” according to Andrew Perrin’s report about a recent Pew Research study, privacy is a major concern. As a technology user and citizen, I am nearly always thinking about what information about me is being shared across the web. I rely on Google for search and email, Facebook and Instagram for keeping in touch with friends, and apps like Waze and Lyft for getting around and navigating new cities. Even though I take more precautions than most, using a password manager and encrypting my data where possible, I know that I’m making a big trade off to use these services free of charge. After all, nothing is really free.
Most tech services use and share our activities and data to send us targeted advertisements. In the best case scenario, it’s pretty harmless, right? We’re all more or less used to being the target of high-paid marketing executives who attempt to sell us new TVs and soft drinks. What’s the big deal if Amazon shares our purchases with Facebook, who can then show us ads based on our past orders?
Well, it’s a pretty HUGE deal, if you ask most Americans. After Edward Snowden revealed the extent of data being collected by the U.S. government, privacy became a hot topic. Again, from Pew Research, about “93% of adults say that being in control of who can get information about them is important.” And based on what the podcast Note to Self found in their series called the Privacy Paradox, it turns out we don’t have a lot of control.
It isn’t hard to make the connection to libraries. There is a long history of the FBI seeking the activity and check-out records of citizens, and of librarians fighting back to protect their patrons’ right to privacy. The ALA has pretty clear guidelines about librarians’ responsibilities regarding privacy.
“In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others.”
As more library services live in the digital world, it is more important than ever for information professionals to understand how digital information is collected and staying constantly updated on best practices for ensuring that everyone’s data is secure and protected.
American Library Associaton (2014). Privacy: Advocacy, Legislation, & Issues.
Madden, M and Rainie,, L. (2015). American’s attitudes about privacy, security and surveillance.
Perrin, A. (2015). One-fifth of Americans report going online ‘almost constantly’.