Privacy Week: Do You Know Who’s Tracking You?

Jessica Terrizzi

Choose Privacy Week, which began on May 1, is a week sponsored by the American Library Association in order to help make everyone aware of the importance of protecting personal privacy.

Citizens often do not realize how much their privacy is invaded every day. Examples of devices used to invade the privacy of people are not as obvious as phone wiretaps, but are parts of our daily lives such as surveillance cameras in schools, stores and on highways; EZ Pass; grocery store key fobs; social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; GPS; cell phones; wiretaps on phones, and a monitor on Internet activities. Fox16.com reports that the average resident of a city appears on a camera at least 75 times a day. According to Chooseprivacyweek.org, the government, as well as retailers, hospitals, and schools use these instruments in order to receive more intimate details about the lives of the people that they deal with each day. Some people even believe that the government takes advantage of the use of security by opening our mail and x-raying people’s bodies.

Although keeping track of a person’s activities and background may help provide security to others, is it a violation of their rights?  These security procedures lead many to ask the question of how much security is too much.  With cameras or law enforcement watching people’s every move, it is hard to accomplish a sense of security, which may defeat the purpose of having all of these security procedures to begin with.

The American Library Association created Choose Privacy Week for this reason. Chooseprivacyweek.org states that this year’s Choose Privacy Week will include an online forum in which discussions will be held about how threats to privacy impact personal freedom and civil liberties. They believe that the answer to this question can be provided by using this forum to create a national discussion. Different opinion and beliefs will be noticed, which will help Americans to truly examine what the importance of privacy really is and how much privacy a person needs.

An example of a major contributor to privacy invasion in today’s society is social networking. Social networking sites ask a user to enter his or her name, photo, email address, age and birthday, and personal interests. Many people do not realize just how much personal information that really is and how that information is used by third  parties who buy it for other purposes. The American Library Association encourages people to consider these points when using social networking sites: Is your profile on public or private? Are you watching what you say? What information are you allowing to be shared in your privacy settings?

People do not notice how much their privacy is invaded each day. Privacy is important because according to Chooseprivacy.org, it is needed in order to achieve free speech, free thought, and free association, which are every American’s rights.  The American Library Association urges citizens to realize that they need privacy and to advocate a revolution that will lead people into making smarter choices about choosing privacy. The display on the Library Media Center bulletin board, helps us all recognize the many ways we can choose privacy. Also, the Library’s monthly contest tests students’ knowledge of the terms of agreement affecting privacy on Facebook. Reading this document will help all users of social media better understand the choices we make.