Privacy Matters

I recently saw a post by John Mikton titled “No Privacy, please”** which really caught my attention. With all the readings about online privacy, digital footprints and shadows during this course his article really helped put it into some perspective. According to Mr. Mikton, “The concept of privacy as we might have understood it in the past has changed. Our online lives are attached to an intricate digital trail on everything we do … We as individuals need to re-frame what privacy means to us.”

Basically, Mr. Mikton proposes that by participating in the digital world, we have to give up some of our privacy and we have to be okay with that. But on the other hand, we need to educate ourselves (and our students) about online privacy to manage it as much as we can. So many people are so connected through the digital world I’m sure many of us would have to go through some kind of treatment program to walk away from it all. Plus so many jobs have some technological and digital aspect to them with so many things going ‘wireless’ and ‘paperless’. But using the applications and software that comes with living in a digital world comes at a price. As Mr. Mikton points out

 The pay-off is that the services and companies facilitating seamless connectivity and convenience 24/7 get unlimited access to all your online information. Our online information, habits and behaviors are available to them.  This is the hidden cost of using these environments, often without our specific consent or knowledge.

I know I’m guilty, as many are, just clicking through the user agreements that come with signing up for sites or using applications but now I realize I need to take responsibility for managing my digital ‘narrative’ as much as I can. And as an educator, I need to consider how I/we educate our students as well. It seems like we’ve focused a lot on protecting our students from online predators but now we also need to really talk to them about protecting themselves from themselves and to be educated about their choices and resources that are in their control. One thing Mr. Mikton recommends is really taking a close look at privacy controls that we do have control over. In his post, Mr. Mikton concludes,

 It is through an understanding of these new frameworks, tools and environments that we can to a certain level choreograph our own digital footprint. I believe that the literacy of online privacy needs to be part of our curriculum and learning for both adults and students. No privacy is the new privacy.

It’s not a very exciting topic compared to the newest online game or the latest Tweets or a cool Instagram picture but it’s something we need to take seriously. We can’t complain about privacy issues if we’re not willing to take responsibility for them when we are given the opportunities.

**A couple months ago I added The Committed Sardine blog to my RSS feed. It’s connected to the 21st Century Fluency Project which is a “collaborative effort of a group of experienced educators and entrepreneurs [including Jason Ohler and Andrew Churches] who have united to share their experience and ideas, and create a project geared toward making learning relevant to life in our new digital age.” (This specific blog post was recommended by Dr. Ohler.) The Committed Sardine blog is comprised of articles and blog posts recommended by the members of this group. It’s like a blog anthology! :)  I recommend checking it out.

 ***I had a “it’s a small ‘digital’ world” moment when I went to the link for the original posting on Mr. Mikton’s blog to get some hyperlinks for my posting and saw that none other than Jeff Utecht had left a comment on that very posting :)

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One Response to Privacy Matters

  1. Avatar of mmorse mmorse says:

    Good comments on the further erosion of privacy that has come along with the sweeping technological changes from the past 10 years. Things are changing even faster than people have time to react to, and the rules on what constitutes an ‘invasion’ of privacy have changed as well. If you had asked me about forseeing a day when going through airport security and being x-rayed by screeners 12 years ago I would probably dismissed such predictions. The new privacy is no privacy and unfortunately as we become more dependent on technology for communication and information gathering, we are going to lose that anonymity that we might have enjoyed previously becoming digital citizens. In today’s world however, one does not have a choice. Can you imagine a potential employee refusing to use the internet in the performance of their jobs on the grounds that their activities were not subject to privacy law? In fact as teachers we need to use technology as part of our jobs and therefore we must be willing to give up some long-held notions of privacy. In fact, employers may and do dictate to an extent our online behavior because it is traceable. Therefore, it there is to be a solution, it will have to come from lawmakers who are prescient enough to see where this is all heading. This is a problematic solution however as they are trying to catch up with the rest of us and since what defines privacy has changed so drastically in the past few years, any code of conduct or law that seeks to define privacy may fail to take into account the changes in social mores that will surely change as time goes by.

    I will grant that perhaps my thinking is an anachronistic mindset; after all I can remember a time when society did not necessarily want [or need] to know all my personal details such as what I ate last night or favorite singer etc. Certainly from what I see of the postings of the postings of friends who have children there does not seem to be much that is off-limits. I do not think that most people today under the age of 25 (in the states or even at our school) have a strong expectation of what denotes privacy for them, In other words, their notions of privacy are probably very different from someone 35+ years old. They don’t care that much. Of course therein lies the problem because it is easy not to care when you are a student and have not yet entered into the working world, but once that takes place and your past actions within the digital domain become the concern of others, than the whole notion of privacy (I would assume) and what should be allowed to be seen by others changes significantly. I don’t know what the answer to this issue is, but certainly we all need to start paying attention more as we make our way into the digital world.

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