Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week 3 - Privacy

To successfully complete No. 3 - Privacy you must...

READ this blog post.
DO and THINK about the information in the "Learn More About" activities.
LEARN by completing the Hands On Activities, including reading the Important Tips.

Your total time commitment is about 45 minutes.

Introduction to Privacy
Everything we do online creates a transaction record. Technology makes the collection and storing of that data both easy and inexpensive. As a result, governments and companies store, process and analyze vast amounts of information from Internet users / consumers. In the U.S., it seems that privacy is the individual right of a consumer that can be traded for a benefit --- especially the free use of the Internet or an Internet service.

Consumer advocates say that online data collection and tracking is going too far. Here's an example: On your next visit to, your welcome page recommends a book based on your heart disease. You just had an EKG at your last doctor's visit. Creepy? No, it's something called behavioral marketing. It's really big!

Marketers say consumers benefit from seeing advertising that's relevant to their interests. They further contend that consumer are willing to relinguish some personal data to get free access to Internet content. After all, advertising pays for the free stuff. Here's an example: On your next visit to Facebook, you see an ad that says 40 and fat. You just had your forty birthday. You could lose a few pounds. You click on the ad to see how the person in the picture got those amazing results?

Where is the balance between data collection and user privacy? In the United States, public policies on privacy date to 1973, when the U.S. Deparmtne of Health, Education and Welfare set seminal guidelines for the fair use of computerized personal information. Advocates point out that these policies where crafted based on who you are. Today, we need to look at privacy based on more than who we are; it's also what we do.

Learn More About Privacy
1. Browse the 20 page report, Online Privacy --- A Tutorial for Parents and Teachers from TrustE, a nonprofti that sets guidelines for online privacy and awards a seal of approval for companies meeting those guidelines. (Time commitment 10 - 20 minutes)
2. Go to Technorati's blog tag page --- privacy at Select one post; read it and share what you learned with your peers. (10 minutes)

Hands On Activity

1. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site at
2. Read about one recent case. They are often posted under the hot links. Here is an example: Sony BMG Music
3. Let a friend or co-worker about what you discovered.

Hungry for More?
1. Read the new recommendations for industry self regulations from the Federal Trade Commission at
2. Check out the privacy Coalition's web site at
3. Review the EPIC's Online Guide to Privacy Resources at
4. Share with a kid or concerned parent, the Kidz Privacy web site at
5. Keep informed! Go to the Privacy Rights ClearingHouse web site at

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