The American Library Association (ALA) has created an excellent public education resource on the privacy issues facing our society – a web site called Privacy Revolution.
The ALA has long been a staunch defender of privacy and free speech, and a
frequent ally of the ACLU on those issues. In fact, libraries have been the
scene of many free speech battles in recent years. If you think about it,
librarians are our natural allies since libraries exemplify the democratic ideal
of citizens’ access to information, while protecting those citizens’ right to
keep their inquiries and interests private. As the site explains:
"Librarians feel a professional responsibility to protect the right to search
for information free from surveillance. Privacy has long been the cornerstone of
library services in America.
Why? Because the freedom to read and receive
ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy.
Librarians defend that freedom every day.
Libraries are information hubs
for their communities. They are also natural centers for learning and talking
about information issues… including privacy.
People enjoy the convenience of having information at their fingertips. But most people don’t realize the trade off. For example, citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI, or that government agencies can track their phone calls, airline travel, online purchases, and more.
In this environment, convenience and fear trump the fundamental right of privacy. And privacy has become so amorphous an idea that many citizens have resigned themselves to an inevitable erosion of rights.
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.
We aim to spark a national conversation on privacy."
Privacy Revolution website: http://www.privacyrevolution.org/