Gwen Mueller is an IT Professional, #dnd Gamer-girl, #coffee drinker, geek in Secondary Education, editor on tumblr #education, curating #science, and #tech resources to inspire lifelong learning with 1/4 cup of #fun.
Hailey Schnorr has spent years peering into the bedrooms, kitchens, and dorm rooms of students via Webcam. In her job proctoring online tests for universities, she has learned to focus mainly on students’ eyes.
“What we look for is eye movement,” says Ms. Schnorr. “When the eyes start veering off to the side, that’s clearly a red flag.”
The result is a monitoring regime that can seem a bit Orwellian. Rather than one proctor sitting at the head of a physical classroom and roaming the aisles every once in a while, remote proctors peer into a student’s home, seize control of her computer, and stare at her face for the duration of a test, reading her body language for signs of impropriety.
Even slight oddities of behavior often lead to “incident reports,” which the companies supply to colleges along with recordings of the suspicious behavior.
When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what happens when the government demands that these companies to hand over your private information? Will the company stand with you? Will it tell you that the government is looking for your data so that you can take steps to protect yourself?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of 18 major Internet companies — including email providers, ISPs, cloud storage providers, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. We looked at their terms of service, privacy policies, and published law enforcement guides, if any. We also examined their track record of fighting for user privacy in the courts and whether they’re members of the Digital Due Process coalition, which works to improve outdated communications law. Finally, we contacted each of the companies with our conclusions and gave them an opportunity to respond and provide us evidence of improved policies and practices. These categories are not the only ways that a company can stand up for users, of course, but they are important and publicly verifiable.
While some Internet companies have stepped up for users in particular situations, it’s time for all companies that hold private user data to make public commitments to defend their users against government overreach. The purpose of this report is to incentivize companies to be transparent about what data flows to the government and encourage them to take a stand for user privacy when it is possible to do so.
“Privacy is not something to be granted only if we prove we deserve it. On the contrary, there should be a strong reason to violate that privacy at all — especially in the case of minors or any other vulnerable population. The opposite of “secret” or “shameful” is not “public exposure is OK.” Privacy and exposure are not about secrets from everyone but about our integrity as a person and our right to share information about ourselves on our own terms.”
New research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that surprisingly accurate estimates of Facebook users’ race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use and political views can be inferred from automated analysis of only their Facebook Likes — information currently publicly available by default.
Models proved 88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate distinguishing African-American from Caucasian American and 85% accurate differentiating Republican from Democrat. Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82% of cases, and good prediction accuracy was achieved for relationship status and substance abuse — between 65 and 73%.
But few users clicked Likes explicitly revealing these attributes. For example, less that 5% of gay users clicked obvious Likes such as Gay Marriage. Accurate predictions relied on ‘inference’ — aggregating huge amounts of less informative but more popular Likes such as music and TV shows to produce incisive personal profiles.
12 educators, many of them well known in online-education circles, did manage to draft a document that they hope will serve as a philosophical framework for protecting the interests of students as online education, propelled and complicated by the rise of MOOCs, hurtles into a new phase.
I don’t know if you’ve heard about this app, Snapchat? Perceived no consequences, and gamification of texting; “the market provides what the market demands.” (Thanks Mr Loucks)
Snapchat is an iOS and Android app that allows you to snap a picture or a video snippet, send an SMS message (text), and set a timeframe (in seconds up to 10) for how long it can be viewed after being sent. Then, it magically disappears and the receiver can’t see the text/image, and Snapchat promises they don’t store your data. Yes, it can be a fun way to keep in touch with your friends, but it’s also the perfect solution to the nosy parent checking your texts, cheating that you can get away with (no evidence, score!), or sending embarrassing photos of yourself, right?
While not everyone is going to use it for sexting, I think parents and teachers should be aware of the potential risks of the app. This is another great time to discuss/communicate privacy and safety (early and often).
On Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, making the state the second, after Maryland, to halt the practice. Other states, including Washington, Delaware, and New Jersey, are considering adopting similar legislation.
“Members of the workforce should not be punished for information their employers don’t legally have the right to have,” Gov. Quinn said in a statement. “As use of social media continues to expand, this new law will protect workers and their right to personal privacy.”
This article got mentioned in Monica Hesse’s web chat today; it’s a good reminder to never blog at school, to never blog mad. It makes me especially glad that I’m anonymous, though I know that’s no guarantee of job security if I totally goof up.
gjmueller: Not to be snarky, but you’re not anonymous. I think being careful what you post is always a good rule, because I can’t imagine ever blogging negatively about a student (let alone use the adjectives she chose from the article). You decide how much risk you’re willing to take on when you put anything, under any pseudonym, online.
Our team is currently looking into reports of stolen passwords. Stay tuned for more.
What prevented Facebook from sending me an email to let me know there was a systemic problem, or that they were aware of what was going on with my page and that they were fixing it? What prevents them from installing a well-placed button that allows a client to alert someone immediately when they think there might be a security breach and get a response in LiveChat?
I suspect it is the practical limitations of running a company that has billions of customers worldwide and would be overwhelmed if even a percent of a percent of them asked a question every day. If that is the case, here is my question: do I want to participate in an activity, one that exposes me to hackers, that is run by a company that can’t — or won’t — communicate with me when they realize something is wrong?
We tend to think about privacy in personal terms: my data, my personal information, my relationship with Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest. As our social networks grow and normalize, though, it’s increasingly more accurate to think about privacy as a communal affair, something heavily contextual and owned, collectively, by networks. Which means that privacy is something that all of us, as individuals and as a group, are responsible for.
Take Facebook. Aside from the standard, personalized privacy concerns — algorithms guessing your social security number, say, based on your profile information — there are also the concerns that expand with network effects. Photos, in particular, can reveal not only a user’s favorite places, vacation spots, and closest friends and family members, but also that same information for the other members of the user’s network. For those who have an interest, commercial or otherwise, in figuring out users’ identities and interests and overall persona on Facebook, your data can reveal your friends’ data — and vice versa.
Read more.[Image: João Paulo Pesce, Gustavo Rauber, Diego Las Casas, Virgílio Almeida]