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Tor exit relays in libraries: a new LFP project

Greetings! It’s been an exceptionally busy few months over here at the Library Freedom Project. We’ve been conducting privacy trainings at libraries across the United States and some internationally, and in June we held our first Digital Rights in Libraries conference. We’re also starting an HTTPS campaign for libraries with friend o’ the Library Freedom Project Eric Hellman and the good folks working on Let’s Encrypt (more on that to come in about a week or so). LFP: can’t stop, won’t stop.

Today, we’re announcing the start of a new initiative, a collaboration between the Library Freedom Project and our friends at the Tor Project: Tor exit relays in libraries. Nima Fatemi, the Tor Project member who’s already helped Library Freedom Project in a number of ways, is our main partner on this project. This is an idea whose time has come; libraries are our most democratic public spaces, protecting our intellectual freedom, privacy, and unfettered access to information, and Tor Project creates software that allows all people to have these rights on the internet. What’s more, Tor Project is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), which is the best defense against government and corporate surveillance. We’re excited to combine our efforts to help libraries protect internet freedom, strengthen the Tor network, and educate the public about how Tor can help protect their right to digital free expression.
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Digital Rights in Libraries was a giant success!!!! As one participant said, it was a “unique and special blast”. Thank you to all those who presented, participated, tweeted, and partied with us after the event. We’re getting together a listserv for anyone who wants to keep the conversation and action going; please get in touch with Alison if you’d like to be added to that list. You can read the highlights of the event at this Storify.

We’ll be posting presenter slides and other resources at this link as we receive them. Check back there for updates in the next few weeks!

LFP and the Knight News Challenge

It’s now been just over two months since the official announcement naming the Library Freedom Project as one of the winners of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge on Libraries. With Knight support, we’re scaling the Library Freedom Project in a huge way – taking our privacy training to libraries across the country – and the attention we received from the January announcement has helped us hit the ground running.

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An introduction

Threatened by surveillance from corporations and governments, our right to access information is chilled. As stewards of information and providers of Internet access, librarians play a central role in meeting the information needs of communities and are in an obvious position to educate patrons about how to shield their privacy from surveillance threats.

Libraries provide access to information and in doing so should protect patrons’ right to explore new ideas, no matter how controversial or subversive, unfettered by the pernicious effects of online surveillance. What’s more, public libraries serve communities that have historically come under more surveillance and scrutiny than the general population, including people of color, Muslims, queer people, transgender people, political activists, the formerly incarcerated, and people living in poverty. Libraries are centers of democracy, and the Library Freedom Project gives librarians the information and tools they need to ensure their institutions remain beacons of intellectual freedom in an open society. We’re fortunate to be working with incredible organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tor Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation to make our work possible. We’ve been teaching privacy tools to librarians all over New England, and we’re about to scale our work in a huge way — bringing anti-surveillance workshop to libraries across the country. Stay tuned; we’ve got big things coming.