Friday, November 6, 2009

Online privacy and security

One of the interesting and slightly disturbing things about the rise of the Internet and the ability for people to have an online presence is that as one of the resources noted, there are no rules surrounding use. People need to be aware of what they are doing when online and the potential consequences. As noted in the resources, publishing information online, especially personal information, really puts it into the public domain and can also give site providers permission to use this information in any way they see fit. Even things like photos of yourself and friends aren't 'private' and if put online can have unintended repercussions. Recent examples of this locally have been incidents where students have posted photos of themselves on social networking sites doing things like dressing up in Nazi uniforms, which have come to the attention of members of the public and cause deep offence and anger.

How many people though really think about this sort of thing when they go online? You might wonder (as I do!) who on earth would be interested in what you do or what you think, but you really do need to be informed and know exactly what you're potentially opening yourself up to. Certainly this is information that we as librarians should be aware of and provide to our patrons. We are information professionals, and our role is to provide access to information and guidance in its use. Patrons need to be assured that any information they provide to us when joining the library will be used appropriately by staff and won't be shared with outside organisations or be able to be hacked into. I assume this can safely be said about North Shore Libraries' online facilities!

The guidelines for parents about computer use and safety were pretty clear and looked very useful. A lot of it is common sense and fairly self-evident, once you understand that what you do online is visible to friends and strangers alike.

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