Libraries have always worked to help people navigate the information environment. In a digital world, this means not only helping people to find information, but to do so critically and safely. In this context, privacy is vital, and libraries must not only guarantee this in their own work with users, but can play an active role in developing behaviours and knowledge in their communities.


RightsCon is a major annual conference organised by Access Now, an international organisation working to defend and extend the rights of digital users around the world.  This year it was held in Brussels.

With 20 subject tracks running over three days the conference covered a huge amount of ground from algorithmic accountability and transparency, to fake news and privacy.

For the first time IFLA attended, organising a session entitled “Privacy for Everyone: Using Libraries to Promote Digital Privacy”. There were four excellent speakers who prompted a lively discussion for an audience which generally had not did not really considered the role of libraries and citizen online privacy.

Damien Belvèze from the Université de Rennes who talked about the why, how and what of organising cryptoparties in libraries.  Peter Krantz of the National Library of Sweden described the ongoing development of a privacy checklist (available, in draft, in Swedish and English) which has been developed for librarians. 

Seeta Peña Gangadharan from the London School of Economics talked about her work training librarians in New York and Brooklyn libraries to train the public in privacy matters, and Diego Naranjo from EDRi presented the Digital Defenders booklet.  This is designed to help young people aged 10 – 14 years to protect their privacy and is intended as a teaching tool.  It is available online.


For more information, see IFLA’s Guidelines on Privacy in the Library Environment.