The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
Libraries take privacy seriously. The American Library Association provides guidelines meant to ensure that the privacy of library users is maintained. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library even has a confidentiality policy in place, in accordance with Ohio law.
But what do you know about your online privacy when it comes to things outside of the Library? The following books and online resources might help shed light on how privacy is changing in our ever-connected world.
The Internet and Privacy
It can be a bit mind boggling how much data is being collected as soon as you start browsing the web. Thankfully, the Library has books to make sense of it all. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
"Exploding Data" by Michael Chertoff
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff argues that one of the most dangerous threats we face today is the exposure of personal information. In this book, he makes the case for overhauling outdated privacy laws for the 21st century and notes that everyone should have the right to make decisions without manipulation from outside influencers.
"The Aisles Have Eyes" by Joseph Turow
Much of the data collected on the Internet serves one major purpose: to sell you something. Turow shows us how data collection isn't something that only happens online, but also in the brick-and-mortar stores we shop in. Retailers are increasingly tracking shoppers in their physical stores, especially in conjunction with apps those shoppers may have installed on their phones.
"The Circle" by Dave Eggers
Linking your email address to social media profiles. Connecting your credit card with your favorite online stores. Live streaming every occurrence in your life. Any of this sound familiar? Eggers' speculative near-future novel serves as a cautionary tale for what could happen when a single corporation has great influence over our everyday lives.
Maintaining privacy online can be difficult to do, but it doesn't have to be. While the following tools might not keep you 100% private when browsing the web, they may at least offer some help or useful information when making decisions about what you do online.
If you've ever been confronted by the massive wall of text that is a terms of service agreement, odds are you probably clicked "I agree" without reading anything. Terms of Service; Didn't Read does the heavy reading for you. This project assigns ratings to the terms of different online services and points out pros and cons. For example, did you know that Google can share your information with other parties? Or that Facebook can use your identity in advertisements that are shown to other users? Terms of Service; Didn't Read did because they read the terms of service.
Tor is a web browser that keeps your browsing as private as possible by distributing your communications through a network of relays around the world. There are definitely some pros to using Tor, like the semi-anonymity it provides. There are also some serious cons, including that web pages will take a longer time to load. Tor might not be the perfect choice for the average Internet user, but if you're looking for a more private browsing option than the standard fare, it is at least an option.
Offered by the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, Panopticlick is an online research project that will analyze how your web browser protects you against online tracking techniques. It only collects anonymous data and can offer suggestions on how to make your online experience a little more private.
Disclaimer: The information included in this blog post is for educational purposes only. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library does not endorse any businesses featured in this blog post.