Privacy SOS

Librarians versus the NSA

The Nation magazine has a cover story about the Library Freedom Project, which we work closely with.

Alison Macrina had bad news for the 30 or so librarians in the darkened auditorium on a recent Friday. “Your password is bad,” she informed them. “I’m really sorry. Everything you’ve learned about passwords is wrong. It’s not your fault.”

Macrina was nearly an hour into a presentation on digital privacy. She and her colleagues had covered encrypted browsers, tracking, mobile security, surveillance laws, and what to do if federal agents show up with a letter from the government demanding library records. Many of the librarians were bent over their notebooks, scribbling frantically as Macrina whipped through her slides.

Macrina, 30, is not your grandmother’s librarian. She has a kaleidoscopic illustration from a Mother Goose book tattooed on her arm, occasionally poses for selfies in red lipstick, and wears a small piece of hardware called a security token around her neck like a pendant. Macrina has worked as a public librarian for nearly a decade, but she’s not shelving books; she’s fighting Big Brother.

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