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.
Every day, it seems, we hear of another hack of credit cards or the theft of personal data from health records. It’s difficult to keep track of it all, much less protect passwords (are yours secure?), various accounts for home and work, personal information and so much more. Yet it’s not just hackers. Many legitimate companies collect and share personal data, and they do it without an individual’s consent. It seems like more and more companies are cavalier about the privacy of their customers.
Now Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced federal privacy legislation that aims to protect American consumers’ personal information by proposing a Privacy Bill of Rights. Senate Bill would establish a set of clear rules that specify how companies can use personal information and what they can and cannot do. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would have the authority to make and enforce rules.
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.
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.
According to a video shared by the DuckDuckGo website, when we search for information on Google each of us can get slightly different, or sometimes enormously different results – even if we use the exact search terms in the exact order and at about the same time. DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasizes privacy, is a Google competitor.
The order of Google’s results may guided by what it knows about the individual who is doing the search. (Check out Ghostery to identify trackers on any or all of your pages.)
Collected information – including any previous searches, where we live, what we read, where we get our news, what we purchase, how much we travel, and much more can affect what we see in the results. I never thought about this much, but I do remember how a few years ago a group of my middle school students were searching on Google for information, and I noticed and was puzzled that similar searches sometimes generated lists of slightly different results. Continue reading “Your News, My News – Do We Get the Same Views?”→
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”→