VIDEO: The Future of Digital Rights Is A Library Card


As the Internet and its usage continue to shape our lives, there's one place that can turn anxiety around digital privacy into action: public libraries.

In the early twentieth century, when the library profession was debating its relationships to free speech, information about patrons flowed in a relatively simple manner—by borrowing a book. But in the seventy-five years since the American Libraries Association made the pledge to protect patron privacy, the Internet has fundamentally changed libraries' relationship to information. Libraries have become reliant on numerous third-party software applications to help them provide services to patrons, and many people go to their library to access the Internet.

For members of chronically underserved communities who depend on public technology resources, vulnerability to digital profiling is high stakes. Building a digitally inclusive society will require more than just expanding access—it will require expanding the privacy systems that make safe and secure access possible. 

Collaborative work facilitated by New America's Open Technology Institute has found that government surveillance programs, targeted treatment of online consumers, and the vulnerabilities of sensitive personal data have hastened the need for more comprehensive solutions to the issues of digital privacy—solutions that libraries can be leaders in championing.

Join New America NYC and a panel of leaders of New York's public library systems for a conversation on the unique opportunity public libraries have in preparing individuals and communities for the challenges of always-on, digitally networked, and easily surveilled lifestyles.


Joshua Breitbart @joshdotfm
Senior Advisor for Broadband, Office of the Mayor of New York City


Jaime L. Anno
Manager of Organizational Assessment, Queens Library

William Marden @MardenBill
Director, Data Privacy and Compliance, New York Public Library

Story Bellows @storybellows
Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, Brooklyn Public Library

Seeta Peña Gangadharan
Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics
Fellow, New America's Open Technology Institute