Conferences, Privacy

Personal, not private

Many years ago, when schools were just starting to think about email and giving faculty their own addresses, we were reminded that what happens on school “property” (digital or physical) belonged to the school – our searches, our emails, our content were theirs. It might have been personal, but it wasn’t private. Many people in the business world also learned this, particularly those in companies that employed people to read outgoing email to ensure that corporate secrets were safe. Some people made the mistake of forgetting this, much to the internet’s amusement.

So, here we are, years later and some people still think that just because they have an email or password, it’s personal. Not so fast. And just as I’m thinking about this (and the number of people I know who mix and mingle their work email and personal lives, along with the dangers of health tracking devices not being secure) along comes the 4TDL conference with two sessions on personal privacy! Talk about serendipity. The two sessions were led by Wendy Stephens and Jole Seroff.

Both covered similar areas but with a different focus. What follows is less commentary on their sessions (archived here and here) and more a round-up of the tools and tips, along with some other stuff I’ve been finding and saving over the past month or so.

Thoughts: We don’t know how our data is being used, even joining an elist or doing a search can be flagged/tagged/used against us; the big flashpoints are with healthcare (just look up a disease; Google’s flu map tracks where searches are coming from because why look it up if you’re not concerned?) and consumer information (watch ads follow you). Also, think about the ethics of privacy: if we’re all cloaking our data, if that becomes the norm, then those who need it (living in difficult areas, protestors, etc.) will not appear as being different. In other words, it’s a form of social justice!

Ways to protect yourself:

  • Delete your cookies after every browser session
  • Turn off your computer, don’t just log off
  • Use https:// everywhere
  • Consider not using Chrome/Firefox/IE, use Opera or a VPN; use StartPage or DuckDuckGo as search engines
  • Use a password manager and two-factor authentication when possible
  • Check your settings! “do not track” does nothing

Articles and Tools

A great follow-up to the session on Data Privacy of a few years ago. And something to wonder how to approach with our teens and faculty.

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