Privacy and security in the technological world

Google, Yahoo! and other search engines collect and store consumer information to personalize our online experience —this is what Eli Pariser calls a “filter bubble” that restricts the information shown to us—. Colleges and employers may accept or reject applicants based on their facebook profile –some employers are even demanding passwords from job applicants. Online street maps and simple facebook updates become a tool of surveillance and can even help solve crimes. These digital tools are both providing a service and invading our privacy. It is a world of trade-offs, like Bruce Schneier explains in his talk.

Hasan Elahi speaks of the trouble he went through when authorities believed him a terrorist. He began to compile data of everything about his life to supply to the FBI: transportation logs, communication records and financial data. “By putting everything about me out there, I am simultaneously telling everything and nothing about my life”, he tells The New York Times. “Despite the barrage of information about me that is publicly available, I live a surprisingly private and anonymous life”. This happened in 2003, and people wondered why anyone would share so much of their personal information. Nowadays, few of us think twice about sharing what we are doing at all times.

What does this all have to do with education? Privacy and security concerns are related to the fourth NETS-T standard, “promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility”, which recommends teaching the safe use of digital information. It is especially important to teach this to the younger generation, who has grown up accustomed to broadcasting their lives to the world. Additionally, the third NETS-T standard, “model digital age work and learning”, advises teachers to effectively use tools to locate and evaluate information resources to support learning. These information resources can sometimes come from a simple tweet, facebook post, or reddit thread. I will address the concept of digital citizenship more fully in the next post.


Associated Press. (2012, August 1). Illinois facebook law makes it illegal for employers to ask for logins. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Elahi, H.M. (2011, October 29). You Want to Track Me? Here You Go, F.B.I. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hill, K. (2012, July 20). Those at ‘Dark Knight Rises’ shooting turn to reddit for support. Forbes. Retrieved from

About Lily F.M.

Graduate student trying to learn as much as I can!

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