Privacy? What is that? No, really, this is a big issue. Some of us simply throw up our hands and accept the “inevitability” of its loss. Would we be so cavalier with our freedoms, our rights? Since privacy is a right implied in the Constitution and recognized by the Supreme Court, I scratch my head and the seeming willingness of our society to accept its loss. The fact that Google made $12 billion in 2012 wholly off of selling the personal habit data of its users disturbs me. Google has a billion users. Though I would consider it robbery, I am still willing simply willing to give Google a dollar a month, roughly the amount they made off of my data anyway, for Google to stop the sale of my behaviors to advertisers.
This issue is emphatically not dead. Just recall the furor over the lack of protection of student data that rocked the EdTech world within the last year. When people realize that snoops can find out where you live, what you eat, and possibly even your bank account number, there will be a general revolt against the sharing of others’ information. I believe that legislation will be created in response to a disaster, as is typically the case. Perhaps a foreign government will crash the digital banking system, or a non-state player will wipe out vast swaths of data on government and industrial sites. These events are more a question of when, not if, so I see privacy being regained … soon.
I think privacy is dead and we should just accept it and move on. Many people disagree with me and maybe they are right. Nonetheless, we constantly trade our personal information on the web in exchange for a ton of great services that are largely free. As a result, a business model developed around all this where the personal data you trade in is used to enhance an existing business or directly sold to data brokers.
One of the online classes I teach covers this in a lesson on privacy.
The solution to this appears to be two things:
- Start teaching students NOW about the importance of creating a positive digital trail
- Use sign on services such as Google to give you more control over who has your information and if you want to revoke that access
I’d agree with Michael that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of privacy in the wonderful world of the internet. In many ways we seem to have traded privacy for ease of access. All you have to do is think about the fact that what used to be considered stalking is now not only accepted but expected with programs like Facebook. I mean the fact that I can find out where my college roommate’s uncle’s friend went to college, is a little strange.
But as someone who works with kids under the age of nine, this is concerning and I think it should be. We need to be concerned with how to help our students to be safe and successful in a world where the rules of privacy have changed. In classrooms we take citizenship and teaching students good behavior very seriously, and I think that we need to include digital citizenship in that. When we teach to use kind words, that applies to all situations (even digital ones). I truly hate the fact that citizenship and digital citizenship are two different lessons in most classrooms.
But I think that they are 2 lessons because we often don’t practice what we preach. How can we teach students to navigate social media when we avoid it because it makes us nervous? How can we teach them what to post and not to post, when we don’t use the same discretion ourselves? How can we tell students how to respond when something gets posted that we don’t like when we don’t even know what our own plan is?
Although deciding what to block is a fair discussion, that isn’t my biggest concern. My biggest concern is that many adults seem to think that the answer is just to block students from using social media. The digital world exists and for most students, it is as real, if not more real than the physical world. If it’s our job to prepare students to be successful citizens in our world, then it’s our job to teach them the etiquette and tools for survival in both the digital and physical world. And if we know that the best way to teach that is through example, then we need to be that example both in the classroom and on the internet.