privacyAt ALA Midwinter, the YALSA Board was pleased to adopt the position paper “The Library’s Role in protecting Teens’ Privacy” written by Mary K. Chelton.

Libraries play an integral role in protecting the intellectual freedom and privacy rights of our communities and users. In early 2016, the FBI published Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools, a proposed set of guidelines for surveying internet use of students seen to be at-risk of recruitment by terrorist organizations. These guidelines cast American high schools at hotbeds for terrorist action, and recommend identifying teens for surveillance and intervention on factors so broad that almost every teen fits the description.

It is documents like this that remind us of the important role that libraries play in protecting the privacy of teens (both in and out of school). This highly connected population, is already subjected to privacy threats every day, and policies like the one proposed by the FBI are in direct opposition of the library’s mission.

In the newly adopted position paper, Chelton suggests several actions we can take to protect the privacy rights of teens:

  • Refresh your knowledge of key documents, like ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual and AASL ‘s Standards for the 21st Century Learner
  • Report challenges or violations of teens’ privacy to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
  • Embed educating teens and their parents and caregivers about their rights into library services and programming
  • Keep up to date on privacy and surveillance issues through resources such as ALA’s District Dispatch and the YALSAblog
  • Seek out training on topics including but not limited to: privacy, students’ rights, libraries’ role in intellectual freedom, and how to leverage technology tools that protect privacy
  • Participate in events such as the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Choose Privacy Week
  • Take advantage of technology that protects library patrons’ privacy
  • Make a commitment to reach out to and serve at-risk youth in the community and address their needs, whatever they may be
  • Identify and work with community partners who are also committed to protecting teens’ rights

The YALSA Board adopted the position paper at ALA Midwinter and has committed to reviewing YALSA guidelines and policies to assure teen information seeking and privacy needs are addressed.

See the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the upcoming blog posts from board members about some of the actions taken at Midwinter.

Kate McNair

YALSA Board Member 2015-2018

Last week, my library science department hosted Alison Macrina, the founder and director of The Library Freedom Project (LFP). From their website: 

The Library Freedom Project is a partnership among librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries. By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, privacy rights and responsibilities, and digital tools to stop surveillance, we hope to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the local communities they serve. 

Alison’s three-hour workshop went by so fast, probably because she is an engaging speaker and the things she talked about were interesting. There is so much to know and learn about digital privacy…especially as librarians. We are in a critical position to help spread this information to the communities we serve. Alison herself is a librarian/has a librarian background so she definitely sees our potential in helping to protect intellectual freedom in these spaces. She is so about librarians, the LFP even has a toolkit all for us!

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It’s Choose Privacy Week, and this year’s focus is on raising awareness of tracking mechanism used by the sites we visit. But teens might challenge those cookies and algorithms. One strategy I’ve observed them using more and more in the digital realm: split personalities.’ But unlike the depiction of Sybil’s bifurcation, these teens tend to stick closer to their chronological ages and societal stations. It’s the connections that vary.

Some teens carry a second cell phone, the one they would surrender if it was “taken up” in class. The trend towards alternate social media presences demands the same sort of deliberation and foresight. Read More →

iphone home screen Over the past few weeks there have been several news stories about the ways in which mobile device apps can, and do, infringe on the privacy of users. The news pretty much broke when it was discovered that the social app, Path, was copying user address books without notifying users of that. Since the Path news came to light, people have discovered that that app was, and is, not the only app copying user information without notice.

As the Washington Post noted in their article on the FTC report regarding privacy, apps, and children the landscape in the area of apps and privacy is something like the digital wild west. It’s all new territory and developers and users are learning what works and doesn’t work and how to marry safety and privacy with business. Many of us are now at least a bit savvy about user privacy in a web-based social media world. A world in which Facebook changes its privacy features on what seems like a weekly basis and Google is making changes to their privacy policy on March 1. Read More →

A few days ago the Pew Internet and American Life Project released their latest report on teens and social networking. The document is filled with up-to-date data that anyone working with teens will want to take a look at in order to better understand teen use of and engagement in online social environments. The Pew report also provides a look into the role adults play in the lives of teens who are a part of the social networking world.

Check out the Storify created that captures some of the ideas presented in the report and what people are saying about it via the web and social media.
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Yesterday Twitter (and the web in general) was abuzz with news and reports related to technology, and in particular young people and technology. Was all the news worth paying attention to? Was all the news care-worthy? Here are some thoughts:

Care: Reputation Management and Social Media
The Pew Internet in American Life Project released a report about reputation management and social media. The focus of the report is on how people, of all ages, manage what others know about them through social network environments. Read More →

This week is’  Choose’  Privacy Week. To celebrate I wanted to write a post about passwords.

First, how many of you use the same password for every site you log into? Do you have the same user name as well?

I know often times we hear IT and other computer professionals tell us to never use the same password, but in reality we are often over worked, and have more important things to do with our brain cells than memorize a bunch of silly passwords (like memorize a bunch of book titles) Right?

I used to feel the same way until I read a blog post about how easy it is to guess one’s password.’  Follow the link to see how easy your password is to hack, and then check back here for tips to make your password more secure. Read More →

A couple of days ago a news story broke about a suburban Philadelphia school spying on students in their homes using the webcams on school-issued laptops. The story has gotten a lot of play, rightly so, and it looks like the FBI is going to investigate.

There’s no doubt it’s creepy if school officials can spy on students without the students, or the parents, knowing about it. Read More →