Operating under outdated or eroded privacy laws, corporations and government entities have been given unfettered access to our online lives. Search engines not only collect and sell our personal data, they also shape our research by providing personalized results using undisclosed predictive algorithms. Information collected by public or private parties could impoverish our informational ecosystem, or be used against a student or professional researcher in commercial, political, social, or academic spheres.
While many people have resigned themselves to operating in a world where surveillance is the norm, this poster seeks to highlight simple ways academic librarians can incorporate free privacy resources and simple tips into one-shot sessions. Low-tech, free resources to protect privacy are relevant to everyone, as online privacy is a universally critical concern among college students.
As librarians, part of our role is to encourage students to examine sources for credibility. Why not promote the same appraisal of the software used to gather information? Creating awareness about these resources helps to promote informed citizenry and provides a chance for students to reflect on their digital footprint.
This poster suggests methods for modeling responsible privacy practices, recommending resources, and discussing the importance of privacy. Interactive discussions empower students to explore controversial topics, create a buffer from unwanted surveillance, and prevent online activities from turning into data points to be analyzed and sold.
Lauren Wittek– User Experience and Assessment Librarian, Central Washington University