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Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications -- and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.
Library Patrons Are At Risk
One of the authors of this Boing Boing article, Alison Macrina, is an IT librarian at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts, a member of Boston's Radical Reference Collective, and an organizer working to bring privacy rights workshops to libraries throughout the northeast. Librarians know that patrons visit libraries for all kinds of online research needs, and therefore have a unique responsibility in helping keep that information safe. It's not just researchers who suffer; our collective memory, culture, and future are harmed when writers and researchers stop short of pursuing intellectual inquiry.
In addition to installing a number of privacy-protecting tools on public PCs at the Watertown library, Alison has been teaching patron computer classes about online privacy and organized a series of workshops for Massachusetts librarians to get up to speed on the ins and outs of digital surveillance.
The myth that users will “vote with their feet” is simply wrong if opting out comes at such a high price. With social, financial and even potentially legal repercussions involved, the barriers for exit are high. This leaves users and consumers with no real choice nor voice to express our concerns.
Internet Users Tap Tech Tools That Protect Them From Prying Eyes
But all of these privacy products come with trade-offs. Blocking social-network posts or contact information from showing up on a Google search might protect people's privacy, but it could also mean old friends they'd like to hear from might not be able to track them down either. Deleting cookies means people may miss out on some targeted deals or services from companies that rely on the tracking files. Using secret or encrypted messaging services means people are limiting themselves to conversations with other people who use the same services.
U.S. needs to add student online privacy rules
As more of our children's education moves online, there are increased opportunities for abusing the collection of their personal data. Last month, state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) introduced a bill that would help close a loophole in federal regulations — at least in California — in an effort to safeguard personal information of public school students. The potential privacy violations could be significant, and it makes sense for the Legislature to act now.
I’ll get right to the worst part. The settlement authorizes Facebook, with the blessing of the court, to continue doing what California and six other states specifically prohibit by law: using children’s images to make money without asking their parents first. (The other states are Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.)
With the support of privacy, consumer-rights and children’s-rights nonprofits, I and several other parents urged the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to throw out the settlement this week – because Facebook can’t buy our children, and it can’t sell them either.
We’re all wringing our hands over the NSA, and meanwhile we’re handing our data as fast as we can to other entities for next to nothing. If the NSA were smart, it would buy Candy Crush Saga, change the permissions, and be done with it.
If we’re honest, we give privacy lip service, but we vote with our keypresses and our dollars, and the bands we strap to our wrists.
Expect your future meat space world to feel very much like your cyber space one. The next time your RFID tag lets Mickey know you’ve got diarrhea, maybe the stall door can make suggestions to you: “Customers who got funnel cake diarrhea also bought Maalox.”
Online Privacy: We Are The Authors Of Our Own Demise...
Lost in the furor over government spying on its citizens is an inconvenient truth: personal data is the new currency of the 21st century, and until we rein in our desire to spend it we can't really stop others' desires to spy on it.
What Surveillance Valley knows about you
This isn’t news to companies like Google, which last year warned shareholders: “Privacy concerns relating to our technology could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our products and services.”
Little wonder then that Google, and the rest of Surveillance Valley, is terrified that the conversation about surveillance could soon broaden to include not only government espionage, but for-profit spying as well.
Privacy And Why It Really Matters
"As much as privacy is about one's ability to control what others know about one, it's also about protecting the freedom of the modern democratic society.
The processes that make our democratic and free society possible are built on transparent and fair decision-making. If you strip out transparency you end up with totalitarianism. The current practice of harvesting and analysing individual's private and public data jeopardises the whole system of fair decision-making."