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Libraries are dedicated to your freedom of inquiry. Our professional values and core principles support you in learning, researching, exploring, and discussing any topic of interest to you, without judgement or unfair barrier.
Provided by the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom, it includes the following resources:
Libraries and the Internet Toolkit
Outsourcing and Privatization in Libraries
Privacy Tool Kit
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Tool Kit
"For anyone who is really concerned about keeping their thoughts private there is only one piece of reliable technology: write with a pen on paper, and burn what you’ve written when you’re done. For the rest of us, who want to get things done, there is an inevitable trade-off which we still don’t entirely understand."
A public initiative sponsored by the American Library Association.
We live in an age when knowledge is power. New technologies give us unprecedented access to information. They also facilitate surveillance, with the power 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.
“Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”— First Amendment
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“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.”—Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition (00-795) 198 F.3d 1083, affirmed.
Lack of privacy and confidentiality chills users' choices, thereby suppressing access to ideas. The possibility of surveillance, whether direct or through access to records of speech, research and exploration, undermines a democratic society.
We live in an era of unprecedented surveillance. The technical capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies are rapidly expanding, and even the best attempts at law reform can’t keep up with these new powers. Over and over again, we’ve seen these capabilities used against protected free speech activities, especially against the speech of marginalized people. Compounding the problem of government surveillance is that of corporate surveillance; we rely on a small handful of data-driven private companies for all of our computing needs, and many of these services are “free” because we are the product. These corporate entities regularly collude with law enforcement to share our private communications, searches, contacts, and more — quite often without our knowledge. By fighting against surveillance, we can reject an internet controlled by a handful of powerful corporate entities and intelligence agencies, and take back our rights in the digital sphere.
Library Freedom Project is a partnership among librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates which aims to address the problems of surveillance by making real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries. By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, privacy rights and responsibilities, and digital tools to stop surveillance, we hope to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve.