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Digital Privacy and Higher Education: How Surveillance Threatens Academic Freedom

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BCTR Talks at Twelve

We know that surveillance has a chilling effect on thought, speech and action. The American Library Association (ALA) enshrined privacy in the Library Bill of Rights (1939), later calling it “the bedrock foundation for intellectual freedom.” But what does privacy mean in academic workplaces that are increasingly enmeshed in the structures of surveillance capitalism? As corporations, governments and universities themselves undertake projects to collect, retain and share detailed data on the reading practices, correspondence and moment-to-moment attention of individual scholars and students, what are the impacts on the freedoms to think, write and pursue new knowledge? This talk will examine mechanisms and impacts of digital data collection in the university setting, and consider pedagogical, policy and governance responses.

Eliza Bettinger is the lead librarian for digital scholarship at Cornell University Library, where her work is to help researchers make meaning from, and exercise control over, data, information and narratives. She directs Olin Library’s Digital CoLab, collaborating with scholars and students on computational approaches to research in the humanities and social sciences, and advises on issues related to digital privacy and surveillance. Her research focuses on critical approaches to pedagogy for information literacy, including privacy literacy. She is an incoming co-convener of the Digital Library Federation’s (DLF’s) Privacy and Ethics in Technology Committee, and a member of the Library Freedom Project collective.

Registration required

This Zoom event is free and open to all, but registration is required.

Register now for Eliza Bettinger’s talk.


Eliza BettingerCornell University Library


February 18, 2021 | 12:00 pm1:00 pm