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Digital Privacy and Data Literacy

Academic associated with this project: Seeta Peña Gangadharan

With the rise of government surveillance programs and the expansion of new commercial techniques to digitally profile consumers, libraries must increasingly attend to digital privacy issues when providing public access to computers and broadband internet. This study examines a recent project in the New York metropolitan area designed to address growing concerns for the protection of information flows to and through the library. It examines the role of a professional development program -- the Digital Privacy and Data Literacy Project -- in building privacy knowledge, awareness, and supportive capacities of library professionals. Through institutional analysis and survey research, the study seeks understanding of how privacy and data literacy impacts the way that staff members think and deal with privacy problems and challenges faced by patrons. 

About the project 

Libraries have served a critical role in providing free access to the web. Key challenges cited often are accessibility, speed and affordability, but too often missing are a host of critically important privacy considerations. The extent of government surveillance programs, differential treatment of online consumers (data profiling), and the need for protection of sensitive personal data have ramped up the urgency of addressing these matters.

In response to this need, the Digital Privacy & Data Literacy project is a training program that will train 600+ information and library professionals in the New York metropolitan area. Building from and in a parallel to this NY-area focused effort, the project will build a set of online resources. Digital Privacy & Data Literacy training and online resources will both provide an overview of how information travels and is shared online, common risks encountered online by users and the importance of digital privacy and literacy.

Project website

Press release