Magazine article American Libraries

California Library Creates Online Privacy Tool

Magazine article American Libraries

California Library Creates Online Privacy Tool

Article excerpt

The internet doesn't have to be scary. That's the message from Erin Berman, innovations manager at San Jose (Calif.) Public Library. American Libraries invited Berman to discuss the library's new Virtual Privacy Lab, an interactive site that teaches people about online privacy. Created in partnership with the Teaching Privacy team at the Berkeley, California-based nonprofit International Computer Science Institute and with $35,000 from the Knight Foundation, the lab helps users of all ages become more "privacy literate" using a gaming concept. Some libraries, such as Denver Public Library, have linked to the Virtual Privacy Lab to help patrons learn more about internet security.

Most people are unaware of the digital trail they leave behind, how the information is being used, and how to control what is shared on the internet. With more of this data being viewed and collected by third parties, it's difficult to feel safe and confident with every click.

To help create confident online interactions, San Jose Public Library (SJPL) developed the Virtual Privacy Lab (sjpl.org/privacy), a free, encrypted online learning tool for all libraries to share with patrons. Spanish and Vietnamese translations will be incorporated to make it accessible to our communities.

In the lab's "construction zone," patrons can learn about the topic and then anonymously answer a few questions--such as how do you use social media or what do you know about your information footprint? The site dynamically generates a personalized toolkit, including links, tips, and resources tailored to a person's preferences and needs. For instance, the toolkit will indicate what privacy settings you may want to review or adjust and will link to how-to guides.

Users also have the option to read in-depth articles and information about what SJPL and other libraries do to protect their privacy, while the tl;dr ("too long; didn't read") crowd may skip to the "quick tools" page. …

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