24 Juillet 2019

Now available: summary of Mozilla's 2019 Internet Health Report

How can the latest digital trends affect the everyday work of libraries?

The 2019 Mozilla Internet Health Report highlights the biggest challenges and opportunities to create a healthier internet. The report is an invitation to reflect and make choices which could contribute to a better digital society.

As librarians go through the text, they have a chance to reflect on different aspects of their work in light of the issues highlighted in this report:

  • Artificial Intelligence will have more and more impact on their patrons’ lives. Can libraries contribute to initiatives aiming to improve public understanding of AI and help their communities make informed choices?
  • Do services your library uses feature digital advertisements? Given the flaws of the digital advertisement economy today, there are many ethical ramifications to consider.
  • Public procurement can be a powerful way to shape the role of technology in public spaces. Public libraries may have the chance to make critical design choices and opt for technology which promotes inclusivity, civil rights, fairness and diversity. Are they doing this?
  • Online privacy and security are the focus of many ongoing debates. These issues call for critical reflection about the data libraries hold about their patrons. Anonymity is another important consideration - how can and should libraries protect the privacy and anonymity of their patrons’ online behaviour – for instance, by routinely erasing their browsing history?
  • The digital exclusion statistics highlight how crucial it is for libraries to offer internet access in areas with little penetration or affordability. It is important to extend efforts to offer connectivity to the most vulnerable and marginalised members of their communities. How can this be done?
  • Taxes on specific types of internet uses can become a barrier to libraries offering public internet access. Are libraries being active enough in advocating against such charges?
  • What kind of web literacy do people need today? The report mentions the skills necessary to know what data is collected about them, understand and deal with bias and harassment online, awareness of the harms of oversharing information about children, and much more. What are libraries doing to help their patrons develop those skills, and can they be more proactive?
  • Alongside other anchor institutions, libraries can support the development of local networks, rather than just relying on major telecommunications companies. They can find different ways to share their Internet connection with communities near them. This would help build a more resilient connectivity fit for local circumstances. How can libraries do more in this regard?

See the full summary of the report and highlighted points of interest for libraries:

[English - PDF]

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Digital divide, Internet access, digital literacy

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