After six or seven years of using a free email account, I decided to switch to one that I pay for, one that does not share my data or track what I do.
I made the decision after I looked at my Google purchase list that goes back for years. These notations include hotels, restaurants, transportation tickets, clothes, books and just about everything else that I bought online. Looking over the list, I observed that it was pretty easy to monitor the past few years of my life just by looking through my purchases. I had no privacy.
One of my friends said it best when he commented, “When something is free, you and your data are the product.” So that is when I decided to switch. I do not want to be the product. I am tired of serving as the product.
I looked at half-a-dozen different programs, all of which emphasize privacy and freedom from tracking, and I chose one that several people I know have used. Then I got out my credit card, paid for a year and — wonder of wonders — the charge did not show up on Google Purchases.
Since then I’ve spent time moving things over to my new email system. This includes just about everything that asks me to sign up with my email address and probably anything that relates to business.
Privacy is a big topic on this blog, and today, JULY 9, 2019, was an interesting day in the 21st Century privacy department.
It’s a significant day because just about every newspaper features an article about facial recognition software and how it may be misused by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE). This government agency uses the facial recognition software to go into state driver’s license databases and collect information about the faces associated with those licenses. This is accomplished without the permission of the people whose images they scan.
As a privacy-conscious person, I turn off facial recognition on Facebook, on my phone, and for my photos, but I never considered my driver’s license. I also did not think that researchers might be harvesting photos from social media, using them to test their facial recognition products.
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.
For years, when I taught seminars in digital citizenship to third, fourth, and fifth graders, the primary topic was always digital footprints. Oh, we discussed and worked on lots of other 21st Century connected-world issues, civility, for instance, but everything seemed to wend its way back to those always-proliferating digital footprints.
We watched and rewatched my favorite digital dossier video from the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard. The students kept diaries and also asked their parents to do so. They found an online calculator to explore and considered how their permanent digital footprints might look a few years down the road. We made a list of all the potential places that might collect digital footprints, one year creating a list that started at the ceiling, went all the way to the floor and then back up to the ceiling again.
My students were always amazed at the size of their digital dossiers which included, in addition to email, apps, social media, and websites, a range of digital markings that they never considered such as credit cards, license plates, grocery store purchases, EZ pass travel, Amazon purchases, app downloads, and so much more. So when the time came for a final project — more than half or each fifth-grade class chose to concentrate on a digital footprint topic. Two of their posters are shared here. Continue reading “Those Digital Footprints Keep Multiplying”→
Echo Dot must have seemed like a really good idea, at least to some people, but then the privacy concerns surfaced.
It appears that Echo Dot records what children say, saves that personal information, and apparently, it’s still saved even after parents delete It. A group of child advocacy organizations has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FCC), and they are supported in a detailed letter from a bipartisan group of United States Senators. Amazon insists that they need to collect the recordings to improve the device.
Um, all our kids’ comments and ideas stored for posterity — I mean Amazon? Growing kids say lots of things that they quickly realize they shouldn’t have said. Ask any teacher. Those archived recordings may contain comments that most parents did not even know their kids say. Just imagine the out-of-this-world corporate data trove provided by all those children. Whatever happened to COPPA?
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.
Various types of digital devices and toys are now a given in the lives of many children — even toddlers and preschoolers. From three and four years of age, many of their play activities include a vast array of toys and books that talk, beep, sing, cue activity, and play music. Even two-year-olds quickly learn how to use digital devices — after all they are generally adept at figuring out cause and effect and how to operate buttons.
The moment children begin to hold or play with digital devices of any kind is the time for parents and adult mentors to begin introducing three important digital life concepts — privacy, fairness, and respecting images. These three connected-life values, introduced early and reinforced regularly, contribute to a child’s long-term digital wellness. The three concepts create a knowledge base that supports decision-making as a child grows older, uses more powerful digital tools, and faces increased peer pressure. Continue reading “Three Concepts that Build a Foundation for Digital Wellness & Health”→