Welcome to Choose Privacy Week!

Thank you for visiting our site and we urge you to become part of our community of supporters. We focus on privacy and libraries, but we are reaching out to all – young and old, urban and rural, library users or not. If you aren’t a library user now, we hope you will become a regular visitor and learn more about how U.S. libraries protect your personal rights to read, search, and ask – and to do so privately!

Librarians firmly hold to the principle that freedom to read is not possible if the government is looking over your shoulder. We thank the Open Society Institute for their confidence that libraries are the perfect places to teach and practice privacy! Because of OSI’s support, we are able to celebrate Choose Privacy Week during the first week in May – creating public awareness and programming on privacy and libraries.

Each of us encounters more and more numerous breaches of personal privacy today, whether it’s with our cell phone records, grocery store coupons, airport scanners, or library circulation records. All of these small invasions lead to the creation of an overall “surveillance society” which is counter to U.S. Constitutional principles and to the way Americans want to live. One would have to become a hermit to avoid all invasions of personal privacy – no checking account, no health insurance, no mortgage.  But with knowledge of how data is collected and used, you can make choices. In your doctor’s office there is some information you are not required to give. If you use a credit card at a store, you might consider using cash when you discover that they will profile your age, class, income, and size with collected data.

Privacy and Youth

The 2011 Choose Privacy Week is focused on young people and privacy. After listening to students over the past two years, I am convinced that we need to reach them where they live – on social networks, in class, in shopping malls, constantly in motion. Their lives depend on technology that offers incredible freedoms but demands a price. More often than not, that price includes some significant compromises on personal privacy.

Thanks to OSI and the American Library Association, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom held a two-day invitational conference on Privacy and Youth, March 24-25, 2011. Over forty individuals attended, including researchers, teachers, librarians, and other privacy experts. And most importantly, we listened to students from local Chicago high schools, and representatives from the National Youth Rights Association. We heard Cory Doctorow, the novelist, blogger, and privacy advocate (Skyped in from London!) engage with attendees on the surveillance society with cameras on every street corner – and how we got there. We heard from a Muslim woman who was hassled at airport security. You will see clips from this marvelous conference posted here in the next few days and beyond.

We created a privacy community through this conference – a group of thoughtful individuals who share concerns, questions, and insights about privacy and youth. Though our time together in person was all-too-brief, this blog will showcase some of the many discussions, ideas, and work products to come out of the ALA Privacy and Youth Conference. Stay tuned as we mobilize, add more members to our group, and seek out new ways for libraries to engage with young people on privacy issues today!

Yours for the Freedom to Read Privately,

Barbara M. Jones, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

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  1. Pingback: Librarified » When you can’t choose privacy

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