Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications — and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.
Library Patrons Are At Risk
One of the authors of this Boing Boing article, Alison Macrina, is an IT librarian at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts, a member of Boston’s Radical Reference Collective, and an organizer working to bring privacy rights workshops to libraries throughout the northeast. Librarians know that patrons visit libraries for all kinds of online research needs, and therefore have a unique responsibility in helping keep that information safe. It’s not just researchers who suffer; our collective memory, culture, and future are harmed when writers and researchers stop short of pursuing intellectual inquiry.
In addition to installing a number of privacy-protecting tools on public PCs at the Watertown library, Alison has been teaching patron computer classes about online privacy and organized a series of workshops for Massachusetts librarians to get up to speed on the ins and outs of digital surveillance.