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Weekly Shhhout-Out


Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Internet, Privacy, and Security

People have a lot of questions about privacy on the internet. The Center for Democracy and Technology points out in their introduction to the subject of Consumer Privacy that privacy is:
... the top reason why non-users still avoid the Internet. Survey after survey indicates mounting concern. While privacy faces threats from both private and government intrusions, the existing motley patchwork of privacy laws and practices fails to provide comprehensive protection. Instead, it causes confusion that fuels a sense of distrust and skepticism, limiting realization of the Internet's potential.
And some of us don't ask enough questions about what happens to the trail of data that follows us. One of the foremost writers on the subject of cyber security is Bruce Schneier, author of the highly respected blog Schneier On Security. Schneier recently wrote an article on CNN's website: The Internet is a surveillance state
The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.

Increasingly, what we do on the Internet is being combined with other data about us. ... Everything is now being saved and correlated, and many big-data companies make money by building up intimate profiles of our lives from a variety of sources.
...
This isn't something the free market can fix. We consumers have no choice in the matter. All the major companies that provide us with Internet services are interested in tracking us. ...
...
Governments are happy to use the data corporations collect -- occasionally demanding that they collect more and save it longer ...

What can we do to protect our privacy? It isn't easy, it isn't entirely possible at present, but there are some protections we can put in place. There are several organizations looking at these issues from the point of view of the general public and consumer. It is worth keeping track of these organizations and the useful information they publish. They also offer opportunities for contributions and activism for those who are interested in doing more.

Libraries and librarians have always been deeply concerned about freedom of information and the right to privacy. These are deeply ingrained in our institutional ethics and values. The American Library Association tracks related issues on their website under Advocacy, Legislation & Issues.

Montgomery County Public Library recommends this page: Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks for when you are using any public wifi network.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is another terrific source of information on what is going on in terms of legislation and enforcement. They run constant updates on current issues.  They also offer articles with useful information on how to protect yourself.  EFF carefully follows such highly controversial issues as CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. And they provide a variety of advice for consumers such as Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices.  EFF offers many opportunities both to stay informed and to get involved.

Net.Effect is a blog from Foreign Policy that follows digital issues where they are international policy issues.

The Center for Democracy & Technology provides a wealth of information and access. They divide the issues into these categories:
Free Expression
Consumer Privacy
Health Privacy
Security & Surveillance
Digital Copyright
Internet Openness & Standards
International
Open Government
All of these headings lead to articles with practical advice and information, well worth reading.

There are also a number of online magazines that follow digital topics.
Slashdot
The Register
Boing Boing
are three of the best known and they constantly follow and update the issues of privacy, security, and freedom of information in the digital sphere.

With these resources you can stay informed, and do what you can to protect your online privacy.

CATEGORIES: Privacy , Security , Nell M.
POSTED AT: 10:38:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007