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A Guide for Understanding (and Acting on) Privacy and Safety Online

This guide will explore online privacy, safety, and the ethical questions around the online environment.


This guide is designed to provide a selection of resources for anyone who is interested in learning more about online privacy practices, safety, and the ethics of big tech.

A report by the Pew Research Centre notes that over 60% of Americans believe that their personal data and online activities are being tracked by businesses and the government (Auxier et al. 2019). There is a great deal of uncertainty as to how their data is being managed and whether the companies who hold their data are good stewards of it, and a predominant belief that the risks of data collection outweigh the benefits (Auxier et al. 2019). This guide may be helpful to those who are in a similar position and are confused or concerned about what happens to the data that accumulates about them while they are online.

These resources are unlikely to relieve the concern over the privacy practices of technology companies, however they should provide some degree of clarity about what happens to user data in the online environment and how individuals can act to improve their online security.

(To fully engage with some of these resources, it will be helpful for the user to have some foundational understanding of the web and the way that it operates, however many are quite accessible for beginners.)

Auxier, B, Raine, L, Anderson, M, Perrin, A, Kumar, M & Turner, E 2019, Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information, Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology, viewed 24 May 2020, <>.

Guide Layout

The guide is divided into resource types (Books, Tools and Advice, Organisations, Websites, Watch and Listen) so that users can identify the resource appropriate to the type of information they desire.

  • The Tools and Advice section provides links to resources such as online articles, information pages, and websites that will help the user to engage in good online safety and privacy practices. This is a good place to start if you are just starting out in your exploration of privacy on the web.
  • The Organisations tab lists several organisations, including activist, non-profit, and government, that are working towards a healthier and safer online environment and aim to provide information and advice to individuals.
  • The Books included in the guide present detailed discussions and debates on online privacy and the ethics of the practices of major technology companies.
  • The Commentary and Articles tab lists some online articles that offer commentary on the topics covered in the guide.
  • The Watch and Listen page, records several resources, including documentaries, podcasts, radio programs, and talks that engage with the concepts covered by this guide.