by Carolyn Caywood
At the American Library Association’s 2006 annual conference, ALA Council passed a resolution to work “toward a national conversation about privacy as an American value.” At that time, there was no discussion guide to structure a conversation on privacy available from the national organizations that develop frameworks for dialogue. ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) and the Fostering Civic Engagement Member Initiative Group (MIG) undertook to create one.
Interested volunteers from IFRT and the MIG convened groups in their library or community to get a wide range of public opinion on the topic of privacy. Our experience was universally rewarding – people were so appreciative of being asked and listened to, and they commended the librarians for being interested in their concerns.
We asked neutral, open questions to get people talking. For example, “What is important to you personally about privacy?” We noted both their concerns, and the language and anecdotes they used to explain those concerns, in order to make our community discussion guide resonate with the public. The goal was not data for statistics, but rather to put the issue of privacy into words and ideas that are meaningful to the public. The overriding theme we heard was, who can we trust? You will find the guide we developed, and related materials for community conversations, at https://chooseprivacyweek.org/for-libraries/civic-engagement-materials/.
One of the groups we particularly wanted to hear from was teenagers. It seemed that every adult had an opinion about teens and privacy, mostly that teens didn’t care about it. What we learned was very different. The teens we listened to cared deeply about their privacy, but their ideas of what needed to be private weren’t always the same as adults’. And, like adults, their ideas about how to protect their privacy weren’t always successful. Here are some of the concerns we heard from middle and high school groups. (more…)
by Rigele Abilock and Debbie Abilock
The girl swallows the pill. Millions of tiny magnetic nanoparticles disperse into her bloodstream. They are her trusty scouts, tracking her body for early signs of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Her wearable wristband magnetically recalls the nanoparticles to her wrist veins for instant skin read-outs. She is constantly monitored by physicians and healthcare companies. In return, she receives the best chances of a long, healthy life.
This futuristic narrative could sit on your library shelf alongside Michael Crichton’s nanotechnology thriller, Prey. However, it belongs in non-fiction. Over one hundred scientists at Google’s life sciences spinout, Verily, are hard at work today on these health nanoparticles and associated wearable monitor. And it’s all in the name of human health…and big data…and profit.
Reconciling big data opportunities with healthcare privacy concerns is the same dilemma we face in education. Instructors want to support personalized learning, instruction, and classroom management with online offerings – but the data of underage patrons hangs in the balance. Just as health profiling based on longitudinal data collection raises red flags, so does educational performance profiling. Ethically and practically, youth will always be our Achilles Heel.
by Annalisa Keuler
Our job as educators is to facilitate student learning, and each year more of this learning is happening in an online environment. We ask students to log in to websites, download apps, and research online. These apps and websites may be used with the best of intentions, but many of them that require students to log in employ an information acquisition technique known as “data mining” and will sell this information to a third party. We must ask ourselves if we are doing everything in our power to secure the information that is transmitted and received. How do we protect students’ data and make sure that this data is confidential and secure?