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Jan 28 is Data Privacy Day - Time to Defend your Right to Privacy

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January 28 is National Data Privacy Day and The American Library Association is rallying Americans to defend their Right to Privacy in a Digital Age by encouraging Americans to take charge of their private information online.

We live in an age when knowledge is power. New technologies give us unprecedented access to information. They also facilitate surveillance, with the power for interested parties to collect and mine personal information.

People enjoy the convenience of having information at their fingertips. But most people don’t realize the trade off. For example, citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI, or that government agencies can track their phone calls, airline travel, online purchases, and more.

In this environment, convenience and fear trump the fundamental right of privacy. And privacy has become so amorphous an idea that many citizens have resigned themselves to an inevitable erosion of rights.

In an information age, it’s vital to protect the impulse to be curious, read, and learn. Yet people seem resigned to the loss of their privacy rights because they see no recourse.

ALA aims to spark a national conversation on privacy with the links and resources available online at chooseprivacyweek.org, where they urge Americans to claim their power to decide who sees what of their personal data, web searches, browser histories, email, blog posts, credit card purchases, photos, library records and more.

California-based ombudsman group ConsumerAction.org offers a downloadable fact sheet with tips for Internet safety.

Put a Lock on It-Protecting your online privacy gives Internet users the knowledge to keep themselves and their families safe while taking advantage of the many benefits of being online. Topics include securing your online accounts and mobile apps, shopping and banking safely on a computer or mobile device, preserving your privacy while using social media, and avoiding unwelcome content and communications.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also has consumer guides with tips on how to protect your online information. Topics include:

  • Encryption - "https" instead of "http"
  • Public Wi-Fi Access Passwords
  • Bluetooth Security
  • Home Wireless Network Security