Worried about Your Privacy? Come to the Library!

March 17, 2017 | Jonathon Hodge

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We live in an era of unprecedented surveillance - with a wealth of our information collected, analyzed, and sold, often without our knowledge or consent. Governments and law enforcement enjoy broad new legal authority, and the technological means, to pry into the personal lives of thousands or even millions of people at once. Private companies – particularly technology companies – track every transaction people make online, from what they search for in Google, to how long they linger on a specific page, to what kinds of messages they respond to and post on social media. Such surveillance used to be the stuff of dystopian novels and Stalinist dictatorships, and is now part of the price of having a cell phone.

Yet freedom from exactly this sort of intrusion has always been, and remains today, an essential ingredient for any democratic society – so much so, that intellectual freedom is enshrined in constitutional law, both in Canada and abroad. Intellectual freedom requires the freedom to examine other ideas and other interpretations of life than those currently approved by the local community or by society in general, including those ideas and interpretations which may be unconventional or unpopular.

At Toronto Public Library (TPL), we recently hosted CitizenLab, the Canadian Civil Liberties Assn, and the Library Freedom Project, for a discussion that grapples with these issues, and most importantly, what you can do about it. Public Libraries can help you take back control of your personal information online, and secure your digital lives. Have a look:


We are happy to announce Digital Privacy workshops are happening now at select branches across the Greater Toronto Area. So, if you are worried about identity theft, concerned about who might be following you on the Internet, or you simply want to keep your private affairs private, then sign up now and learn the habits, and technologies that will help you.

Classes are currently available at Cederbrae, Parliament, Albion, Parkdale, and Fort York Branches, with more happening in the months to come! Sign up online or call the local branch.

Questions about TPL’s digital privacy project can be directed to Jonathon Hodge - jhodge@torontopubliclibrary.ca