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.
Those of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.
Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?,Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.
Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.
We hear a lot of discussion about secure passwords, but now people are wondering whether we should pay more attention to the answers we give for security questions.
The article Why You Should Lie When Setting Up Password Security Questions, over at the Techlicious site, makes me wonder whether security questions — and the answers that we provide — should be re-evaluated. The article emphasizes the lack of security and privacy in our lives and notes that by giving answers to security questions that describe our personal lives we set ourselves up for potential identity theft problems when hacks do occur.
It seems so simple when we install apps. Download, click agree and OK a few times, and use. But it’s not as simple as it seems because we may be unintentionally giving free access to lots of our data. When is the last time you read the user agreement before clicking “agree?” When was the last tune you made sure your 21st Century digital kid to read the agreement? The app install process is not that simple a process after all, because your data is valuable, and not just for you.
After spending years teaching digital citizenship and civility in the K-12 world, I’ve now come to the conclusion that we parents and teachers should, in the midst of teaching children, stress that there is never privacy online. Yes, I know that we already teach this — or try to — in most schools and homes, but election 2016, accompanied by the theft and sharing of emails and other connected world materials, is scary. It has proven that everyone can be hurt by what they say online — even when what is said is not intended to generate hurtfulness.
Our confidential comments may differ from what we say in public. When our candid thoughts become widely available — yes, through hacking, but with kids, it’s through intentional sharing, gossip, or the unintentional mistakes that kids make — words can often be interpreted negatively. Moreover, at least for the time being, we live in a world where stealing a public figure’s private communications and making them public appears to be OK.
Finding good resources to help young people learn and understand more about data and photo collecting is key to building strong citizens in our 21st Century digital world. We adults can also learn a lot in the process.
Interestingly, no matter how we set privacy settings (stipulating who can see our images), the sites where we post and share continually accumulate information about us — much, but not all, gleaned from the photos themselves. Yes, it’s about digital footprints, but it’s much bigger than that.