News

Choose Privacy Every Day


Since 2010, the American Library Association has observed Choose Privacy Week to bring attention to threats to the private information and data security of library patrons.  In 2018, ALA announced the launch of Choose Privacy Every Day, a website to address the growing and diverse challenges to citizen and consumer privacy posed by governments and corporations (Caldwell-Stone, 2018).  Privacy-related news updates appear every Friday.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus has become a major focus of the website’s privacy issues coverage.  Weekly updates provide links to stories on the use of government and corporate surveillance technology to track the spread of the virus, such as the use of drones to enforce quarantines and of software to monitor contact tracing.  Recent blog posts have also raised awareness of the compromises to student privacy when using Zoom for virtual meetings, including advice on how to protect meetings from “Zoombombers” and on alternative platforms with greater privacy protections (Lechtenberg, 2020).

Recommended Websites

Choose Privacy Every Day
Find out how to protect your personal information from snooping by governments, big business, schools, hackers, and trolls. Check out their list of Tools to Protect User Privacy.

Electronic Freedom Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation defends civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. Check out their Guide To Google Account Privacy Settings For Students.

Tom’s Guide: Zoom privacy and security issues—Here’s everything that’s wrong (so far)
Check this frequently updated list of privacy and security problems found in Zoom, how the company responds to them, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Federal Trade Commission: Remote learning and children’s privacy
The FTC provides guidelines for parents on how to protect their children’s privacy in accordance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as they attend school through online classes. Also links to guidelines on protecting children from identity theft.

Digital Data Tracking and Privacy: The Future Implications of COVID-19
This article discusses how public health officials use information provided by Google and Facebook to track the spread of the virus, monitor the effectiveness of stay-at-home orders, and map trends of outbreaks. What are the implications for user privacy? Will governments find other reasons to compel companies to share user data like location tracking? What are the political risks to civil liberties?

Balancing Health Privacy, Health Information Exchange and Research in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
From the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, this scholarly article discusses proposed changes to privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act (HIPAA) designed to let health information seamlessly and frictionlessly flow between the health entities that need to collaborate on treatment of patients and, also, allow it to flow to researchers trying to understand how to limit its impacts.

Big Data in Public Health: Terminology, Machine Learning, and Privacy
From Annual Review of Public Health, this scholarly article examines how public health research and practice uses the large amount of information gathered by social media and other digital services, determines appropriate terminology, and discusses the ethical implications.

References

Caldwell-Stone, D. (2018, June 19). More than a week – “Choose Privacy” is now an everyday choice. News and Press Center; American Library Association. http://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2018/06/more-week-choose-privacy-now-everyday-choice

Lechtenberg, K. (2020, April 17). To Zoom or Not to Zoom. Choose Privacy Every Day; American Library Association. https://chooseprivacyeveryday.org/to-zoom-or-not-to-zoom/