Book review: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy, by Violet Blue

sggp coverI read a review copy of this (it comes out August 25), so the text isn’t necessarily final. Still, I’m quite confident that I can recommend it: it’s a good overview of basic privacy principles and techniques. It pays special attention to the ways in which girls and women are targeted online.

There’s a useful list of bits of information you should never share online, coverage of data collation practices, a good discussion of privacy settings, and some ninja tricks for people who want to go beyond the basics.

I disagree with Blue on only one point: she recommends setting up an autoresponder to tell people you’ve changed your email address. I disagree. They’re a blunt tool and — unless you can set your email program only to autorespond to those in your contact list — provide every spammer and scammer who hits your old address with a direct path to your new one.

I’m also a little worried that some of the techniques might require more specifics. Often the instructions given are quite high-level, and I wonder if the average reader of this book will be tech-savvy enough to follow them easily. But that’s a minor quibble and one that can probably be resolved by some quick Googling on Average Reader’s part.

I’ll add one very recent addition to the useful-tools collection: I’ve been testing the EFF’s browswer add-on PrivacyBadger for the past week and have been very pleased with it.

Overall, this book is a quick read and sensible advice. It hits the mark, emphasizes the importance of paying attention to privacy without being judgmental, and provides a collection of useful tools and resources. I’ll get a copy for my daughter.