Privacy Issues in a Digital Age

With the recent news around Facebook, information privacy, and data mining, we thought it would be important to re-share a newsletter article written in 2017 by our Executive Director, David Slivken. It briefly outlines the Library District’s commitment to privacy and privacy issues, particularly of  individuals’ personal information and right to read.

Privacy has long been the foundation of library services in America, reflecting the belief that individuals’ freedom to read and to receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy. Librarians and library professionals defend that freedom and work to ensure user privacy every day.

But it goes even further. As the community’s hub of information and a place for civic discussion, the library plays an important role in helping its users understand important information issues surrounding privacy.

Take for instance the most recent resolution passed by Congress [in 2017] to allow internet companies to sell your web browsing history; previously, the FCC deemed this information is private unless you gave your consent.

The American Library Association points out,

“In an information age, it’s vital to protect the impulse to be curious, read, and learn. Yet people seem resigned to the loss of their privacy rights because they see no recourse.”

So, every year from May 1-7, libraries throughout the country observe Choose Privacy Week, an effort that invites people into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age.

The Library District makes privacy and privacy issues part of our daily work, providing a variety of classes and resources to help the community understand privacy rights. For example, our collection includes a variety of materials on important topics like individual privacy vs. national security, safeguarding your data, and digital surveillance. Similarly, our Facebook and social media classes discuss online privacy, setting privacy and security controls, and other safe-use topics.

The upcoming class examining Cybersecurity is at Harmony Library.

And there is always the Library District’s professional responsibility to ensure library users’ privacy. Be assured that as a public-supported library, we will not “disclose any record or other information that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials or service or as otherwise having used the library” except under very specific conditions like a subpoena (CRS, 24-90-119).

We encourage you to learn more about the privacy issues that are important to you and your family. Your librarians and professional staff are available to help.

Recommended Reading on Privacy Issues

Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life Helen Nissenbaum
Privacy in the Modern Age: The Search for Solutions Ed. Marc Rotenberg, Jermaine Scott, Julia Horwitz
Privacy and Security in the Digital Age (Teen, Current Controversies Series) Ed. Anne Cunningham


Privacy in a Digital, Networked World: Technologies, Implications, and Solutions Ed. Sherali Zeadally, Mohamad Badra

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World Bruce Schneier
Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform the NSA Timothy H. Edgar
Information Insecurity: Privacy Under Siege (Teen) Brendan January
Privacy (Big Ideas/Small Books Series) Garret Keizer