If you are in need of a primer on the emerging issues around privacy and surveillance topics, check out the currently ongoing mini-series on the podcast Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything. Over the last month, Walker has been examining some of the modern concepts around the lack of privacy in everyday life, including reexamining the legacy of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon, and examining how exactly targeted ads follow people around the internet and how difficult it can be to stay connected but to opt out of the system.
This should be of particular interest to any libraries that offer public internet use as a service. The American Library Association states in its Privacy Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights that “Protecting user privacy and confidentiality has long been an integral part of the mission of libraries.” But as more and more of our services move online, and libraries push more of our users to access services digitally, libraries leave themselves and their users open to tracking. And for every loophole that gets closed, it seems like there are five new ones that emerging technology enables for exploitation. If the internet is a service that libraries provide and privacy is something libraries believe individuals should have when browsing, then there is a lot of work to do.
You can access these episodes inside your favorite podcast app, or you can listen to them here from SoundCloud:
John “Mack” Freeman is the Marketing and Programming Coordinator for the West Georgia Regional Library. He is a past recipient of the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Conable Scholarship, and a 2015 ALA Emerging Leader.