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.
Editor’s note: Over here at Library Freedom Project HQ, we often get emails from rad librarians across the country who’ve attended one of our privacy trainings and have been successful applying those principles and tools in their libraries. Recently, we heard from one such librarian: Justin Wasterlain of the Santa Clara City Library, who’d just taught his first privacy class for the public. We were jazzed to hear about Justin’s experience and asked him to write this blog post so we could amplify his success and encourage other librarians to do the same. Below is the first in what we hope to be an ongoing series of LFP success stories. Thanks for writing it up for us, Justin! -Alison
While down some internet research rabbit hole, I stumbled across Alison’s Digital Privacy Toolkit webinar (ed note: that webinar is out of date now. Contact me for a copy of my updated presentation). In just over an hour, she had covered a huge number of tools and concepts in a manageable and teachable way. As a librarian looking to create privacy workshops, it was exactly the resource I needed. I recognize that sounds very “paid testimonial,” but it was the first place I had seen so much content laid out so accessibly in a library context. I was pretty stoked.
While I was in San Francisco prepping for ALA and Digital Rights in Libraries, I sat down with Meredith from Restore the Fourth SF to talk about the Library Freedom Project. Check it out here!
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!
This week’s episode of On the Media includes a great segment on librarians’ history of activism against overbroad government surveillance, with an update on what some of us are up to today, including the Library Freedom Project! Listen to the segment here.
This afternoon, I went on WBUR Boston’s Radio Boston program to talk about how Edward Snowden inspired me to start the Library Freedom Project, and why I think libraries are the perfect place to educate the public about privacy. Listen to me say “um” about a thousand times here:
Crossposted from Choose Privacy Week
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your password sucks. I know you use the same one for everything, and it probably contains some personally identifiable information – your dad’s birthday, your pet’s name, the year of your anniversary. Even if you think you’ve got a good password strategy, if it contains any kind of pattern – a famous quote, a song lyric – it can very easily be cracked. Consider how much access that password — the one you’re using for everything – gives to your private life. Whether you’re worried about exploits from criminal hackers or rogue government intelligence agencies, weak passwords put your private data at risk.
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.