First Tuesday Tech Talk: Online Privacy

Given the recent controversy over the NSA’s surveillance program and the subsequent national conversation on privacy, the library has seen an uptick in questions about computer security. I’ve collected a range of tips on how you can protect your personal information in the digital age:

Lifehacker is a blog that offers, in its own words ‘Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.’ This article focuses on four areas of computer security: passwords, browsers, at-home Wi-Fi and browsing on public Wi-Fi. Within each of those categories Lifehacker gives you a checklist of actions you can take to protect yourself online, from the bare minimum to going anonymous.

Last month the New York Times published this article on protecting yourself from spam that pops up in your search results. It outlines four areas where you can take an active role in keeping your computer safe and your information private: identifying spam, searching safely, beefing up your browser, and choosing search engines.

If you’re worried about the data Google collects on your browsing habits, you may want to give DuckDuckGo a try. Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your browsing, doesn’t save personally identifiable information, and doesn’t use targeted ads. Unfortunately they don’t have the advanced search options that Google has, and since they don’t track your browsing history the results aren’t nearly as personalized as those from Google, but if you’re worried about Google’s reach, DuckDuckGo is a good alternative.

If you’re looking for skill-building tools, check out GCFLearnFree’s internet safety self-paced tutorials. GCFLearnFree creates and provides quality, innovative online classes on technology topics; their internet safety course covers a wide range of topics, from email tips, to smart social networking, to mobile device safety. I like that they offer learning tools intended to reach different types of learners: lessons (text-based), Interactives (video), and what they call ‘Extras’ (primarily articles.) They also offer internet safety tutorials geared toward kids.

Does all this make you want to advocate for for stricter privacy protections? “demand your dotRIGHTS” is the ACLU’s campaign to protect civil liberties in this digital era.

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