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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 17, 2019

CONTACT: Kathleen Clark (212) 788-6479, kaclark@cto.nyc.gov

NEW YORK CITY ANNOUNCES 2nd LIBRARY PRIVACY WEEK, A SERIES OF EDUCATIONAL EVENTS TO HELP NEW YORKERS PROTECT THEIR DIGITAL PRIVACY

From October 21 through October 26, the City of New York public libraries will host over 35  free digital privacy workshops for the public. This work was made possible through the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

NEW YORK – The de Blasio Administration today announced the City’s second annual Library Privacy Week, a week-long celebration of libraries and their critical role in providing patrons with information about protecting their digital privacy.

Through the week of October 21st, the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Queens Public Library will host 39 workshops across the city that are free and open to the public, an increase over the number of workshops available last year. These workshops will provide hands-on instruction covering topics ranging from how to use digital privacy tools to understanding facial recognition technology to best practices for safely completing the Census 2020 with some workshops available in the Spanish language. For a full schedule, please visit libraryprivacyweek.nyc.

Library Privacy Week 2019 is made possible through NYC Digital Safety: Privacy & Security, a project, funded by the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, that ensures that NYC residents can rely on public libraries for their questions about internet privacy and security. In 2018-19, more than 1,000 library staff members throughout each of the three library systems in all five boroughs received specialized training on online privacy and digital security through the program. NYC Digital Safety builds on the success of the Data Privacy Project, and leverages resources developed by Library Freedom Project, the Mozilla Foundation, Tactical Tech Collective and the METRO Library Council. All of the materials from NYC Digital Safety: Privacy & Security were created under a Creative Commons License and are presently available for use by librarians, educators and technologists throughout the world at nycdigitalsafety.org.

“Data privacy is an important right for all New Yorkers, especially given how pervasive digital technologies have become and how much personal information we share online,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York. “Libraries are critical community touchpoints, and we are fortunate to have librarians on the front lines of public education when it comes to protecting our digital rights.

“As technologies evolve and we continue to find new ways to use data to help people access city services, it is vitally important that we educate New Yorkers about privacy,” said Laura Negrón, Chief Privacy Officer for New York City. “I’m thrilled that this week of events is happening for the second year in a row, and I am excited to partner with the libraries on this important project.”

“In today’s evolving threat landscape, government can play an important role in helping its constituents become safer in their digital lives”, said Geoff Brown, Head of New York City Cyber Command. “And these workshops represent another important step the city has taken to help New Yorkers protect themselves from cyber threats.”

“Digital privacy is an issue that many people are concerned about as technology continues to rapidly advance and their devices never leave their side,” said Council Member Robert Holden, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “I am happy to see the City of New York taking proactive steps to provide its residents with valuable information and workshops that will teach them how to protect their personal information.”

“With all the exciting cutting-edge technology at our fingertips today, it can be easy to overlook the importance of protecting your digital privacy. And with the 2020 Census being the first decennial count to be taken mostly online, New Yorkers need to ensure their Internet activity is conducted safely,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Residents of all ages should make time to participate in Library Privacy Week and equip themselves with the knowledge and tools necessary to safeguard their personal information.”

“Long before the age of cell phones and the Internet, American libraries have worked to protect people’s essential right to privacy,” said New York Public Library Vice President, General Counsel Michele Mayes. “And we continue to do so even as the digital age brings new and complex challenges. With ‘Library Privacy Week,’ we highlight the public library as a trusted resource in this arena, always ready to provide accurate, up-to-date, and authoritative information on privacy and digital security.”

“Public libraries are among the most trusted institutions in communities around the country and here in New York City,” said Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library. “Our patrons can count on us during Library Privacy Week and throughout the year for up-to-date tools and information to protect their privacy amid the ever expanding digital landscape.”

“Privacy and intellectual freedom are the most deeply held values of public libraries, and at Queens Public Library we are committed to making absolutely sure that we safeguard the data of everyone who borrows our books or other materials, browses the Internet or participates in one of our programs, ” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “I would like to thank the Office of the Mayor’s Chief Technology Officer and the Metro New York Library Council for supporting our efforts to educate the public about how to prevent their personal information from getting into the hands of organizations and people who may not be as invested in protecting privacy as public libraries.”

“We are grateful as always to work with Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library to plan our second Library Privacy Week.  Libraries remain a necessary resource for New York residents to safely ask questions about the sanctity of their data. We’re proud to support a week where libraries can showcase the broad range of programs and services that they provide to help their communities safeguard their personal data,” said Nate Hill, Executive Director of the METRO Library Council.

“As critical systems and processes like the 2020 decennial census continue to move online –  especially given the stubborn ongoing challenge of the digital divide – libraries increasingly become our most important civic, social, and ethical infrastructure,” said Greta Byrum, Co-Director, Digital Equity Laboratory at The New School.

This project highlights the important role that libraries play in today’s world. In 1939, the American Library Association affirmed a right to privacy, noting that confidentiality is critical to the exercise of free speech, free thought and free association. NYC Safety: Privacy & Security represents an important step to ensuring that library staff remain informed and prepared to navigate the latest emerging threats to privacy created by digital technologies.

Highlights of Library Privacy Week 2019 include:

  • Woodstock Library (October 25) Tech Connect – Internet Para Principantes (Bilingual) is a free workshop that provides an introduction to the Internet, including getting connected, using a web browser, and navigating web pages.
  • Columbus Library (October 23) What the Internet Knows About You is a free workshop that shows how what we do online is recorded and will provide tools on how to remain secure while browsing the Internet.
  • Queens Central Library (October 23) Safe, Secure and Online is a free workshop for those with questions about completing next year’s decennial Census. Patrons will learn about the history of the U.S. Census, discover best practices for filling out the Census form online, and explore how the Library and city government are working to ensure that all New Yorkers are counted.
  • Brooklyn Central Library (October 22)Teen Tech Time: Intro to Internet Safety & Privacy for Teens is a free training for youth on how to protect their identity and interact safely on the internet.

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About the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer The Mayor’s Office of the CTO is led by the New York City Chief Technology Officer. We’re making broadband, smart city technologies, digital services, and the tech industry work for all New Yorkers. Learn more at NYC.gov/cto.