Internet privacy is under attack with the current administration. This means that the things you say and do online can no longer be considered private in the same ways we thought of them a few weeks ago. Congress has ruled that Internet providers can sale your information in an effort to make more money. You, my friends, are for sale. But one law maker contends that it’s okay that you don’t have Internet privacy because YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO ONLINE!
— The Hill (@thehill) April 16, 2017
But wait, is that true? Let’s count discuss just a few of the ways that people do in fact have no choice but to go online in the year 2017.
Do you want a job? Chances are you can only apply online. And in order to apply, you’ll need access to a computer, the Internet, and an email address.
Do you want paycheck stubs for a loan or to apply for college? Yep, you can probably only get those online as well.
If I want to know what grades my child is getting in school, I can only find out online. Our school district does not send out any paper report cards at all.
Need to go to the doctor? You’ll have to fill our those per-certification forms online.
Want to apply for the FAFSA to get financial aid for college? Online thank you.
Want to keep in contact with professional colleagues? Participate in professional development? Online classes? Webinars?
Keep in contact with military family stationed in far away places?
Want to participate in politics? Contact an elected representative?
What about contacting a business or corporation to get more information or file a complaint?
Are you a student who wants to graduate? Chances are you will have to submit homework and assignments online.
The truth is, if you want to communicate, learn, work, grow or anything in the year 2017, you do in fact have to get online. Very few people manage to effectively live off the grid because our world is designed to be very much on the grid. And now that we’re all there and need it to survive, the government wants to take away our reasonable rights to privacy. This is something that I think we should all be concerned about.
So what do we do? Continue to talk about the importance of online and data privacy. Contact your legislators. You can also look into building a VPN to help protect your privacy. But the important thing is this: We can not let the false narrative that being online is a choice stand.
And here is where I would like to add a note about the power and importance of libraries. Every day libraries around the world open their doors to those who don’t have steady, dependable access to the Internet for a variety of reasons. We provide the access they need to do all of the things we talked about above and more. And libraries have been stalwart defenders of patron privacy. Online privacy matters.