Booklist for Choose Privacy Week

Privacy, a cornerstone of library service, is something that teens can often take for granted, especially online. Choose Privacy Week is May 1-7, and is a time when we can highlight privacy’s importance in our lives, and what is at stake with the possible corrosion to one’s personal privacy for and with our teen patrons. Teens should understand that privacy is their civil right, and user agreements and data collection are edging on those rights.

Following is a list of books and resources that can engage teens in discussion and/or contemplation of what protecting their privacy can mean for them.

The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin D. Mitnick

Convicted hacker turned expert and consultant on computer security shows all the ways that personal privacy and personal data is compromised online. This serves as a wake up call on how companies and the government have our information, what is stake because of it, and what you can start to do to protect yourself online.

Eyes & Spies: How You’re Tracked and Why You Should Know by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Written with youth in mind, this book looks at online security, privacy, cyberbullying, and safety. It shows what is at risk, and what youth can do to protect themselves. It offers opportunities for self-reflection in how one moves through the online world.

Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform the NSA by Timothy H. Edgar

This title looks at government mass surveillance through the lens of of civil liberties. Using Edward Snowden’s 2013 leaks that revealed the existence of the NSA’s collection of Internet communications to the world and how it opened up a greater debate within and without government agencies about privacy and human rights protections, and the complex programs of intelligence collection.

Information Insecurity: Privacy Under Siege by Brendan January

A compact book written with teens in mind, this looks at one’ digital footprint and who has ownership of our digital data. It looks at what data is captured from our social media accounts, and what one can do to try to protect their privacy online.

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

Looks at how personal data gathered from social media is used to create revenue from advertising.

Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age by Michael Chertoff

Former Secretary of Homeland Security and advocate for personal privacy chronicles the history of data collection, and where we are now with so much of our personal information forever linked on the Internet. He proposes paths to better security through legislation and what that would look like.

Here are a few fiction titles that can be used to explore themes of privacy:

The Takedown by Corrie Wang (Best Fiction for Young Adults 2018)

Super successful and popular Kyla Cheng is taken down from her elite status at her prep school when a cyberbully posts a fake sex-tape with her and one of the school’s teacher. This delves deep into the tech world and its potential gaps in security in a way that feels real, and will leave readers thinking about what personal information they allow on the Internet.

Feed by M. T. Anderson  (Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2010, Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners 2009, Margaret A. Edwards Award 2019 )

This now classic sci-fi cautionary novel explores the idea of free-will and media control in a world where everyone has an internet/television feed hardwired into their brains with all the information they need to know. The Feed having access to our inner thoughts and questions, poses questions around privacy.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2011, Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners 2009)

A realistic sci-fi thriller set in the near future where a terrorism attacks allows Homeland Security to create a police state where everyone’s personal privacy is at risk.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

A dystopian world where teens with special abilities have to run from a government that wants to control them. Ashala, leader of a tribe of fugitives, is captured and a machine is used to extract her memories to find the others in her group. A book that can bridge the discussion about what information we give freely, and how precarious that could be.

Here are a couple of movies and web resources:


The Circle

Based on the book by Dave Eggers this explores how one’s personal emails, social media, buying, and banking are used to create one online identity. After Mae Holland is hired to work at the largest internet company she sees as she moves up the ranks the sacrifices of personal privacy.

Terms and Conditions May Apply

A documentary that looks at the fine print of the of the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policies that we sign off on a variety of online and social media sights, often turning over a lot of our personal information to large corporations.

Web resources:

The Library Freedom Project

Resources curated for understanding issues around privacy from a library perspective. There are basics and crash courses, and a look at online privacy for kids that are good for teens as well.

Surveillance Self-Defense

A tool guide for how to have online communications in a safer manner, and to protect yourself from online spying.