Although I believed that I had taken significant steps to maintain a modicum of privacy in my 21st Century digital life, I was wrong.
I am less than halfway through Bruce Schneier’s book, Data and Goliath, all about the hidden methods of collecting our personal data, and already I am discovering that my personal privacy plan has many holes. I’m not that different from most adults. Privacy, however, is going away, and we collaborate in the process by not making any specific decisions and by going along with the ways the Internet tracks us. We do have choices, and we educators and parents need to learn a lot more about maintaining privacy and then share what we’ve learned with young people.
In the book’s first chapters Schneier addresses data collection, how trackers get added to my computers and digital devices as little files called cookies. With a quick search, I found over 1,000 cookies and cache files on my laptop, despite the fact that I only allow cookies from places that I visit (about 650 were cookies). Some of these are useful and don’t bother me — like the cookies for the several catalogs where I regularly make purchases, the newspapers which I read, and the educational and musical organizations which I like. Read more about cache. Continue reading “How Much Privacy Do I Have? DuckDuckGo Gives More”→
In essence, Google is now using credit card data, to combine with the data it has already collected about us, to learn more about our purchases — those made online and those we purchase without any online connection. The goal, according to Washington Post reporters Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, is to discover whether Google ’s searches and its advertisements have helped people decide what to buy — even when a purchase isn’t made online.
The company continues to collect data and learn more and more about people of all ages. That’s creepy. It feels even more creepy when I consider how we use Gmail in my family to share calendars and when I look at the Google Dashboard that keeps track of and shares with me some of the data Google has collected about us.
Today a person’s personal information is a commodity, and privacy is a struggle to maintain. I want to stop (or at least slow down) Facebook, Google and all their advertisers (not to mention Cambridge Analytica) from vacuuming up my information.
Parents often ask for suggestions about the steps they can take to help their children develop stronger and more robust digital world skills. I often suggest that families use the time spent eating together at the dinner table to bring up and consider connected world topics. Most adults will recall that, as they grew up, dinner table conversations were a time when family members learned together, chatting about critical issues and challenges in the world, Today’s family mealtimes are just as important. Below are five topics that can encourage learning, lively discussion and improved decision making, all while eating a meal together.
Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.
I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.
Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.
Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes — and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data. Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.