Privacy Matters

While thinking about privacy online I remembered my personal experience with this matter. I always used to turn off my location sharing on my old cellphone. Unfortunately, one day I broke it and got a better one. This new device made me much happier. All the apps were working faster and better, I could use map navigation without any difficulties. It was so convenient! However, once I had to take my car to service, therefore I had to use public transport. When I got to a bus stop, my new phone was very kind to send me a notification with the schedule of buses coming soon. Obviously, I forgot to change my location sharing setting. This made me rethink how all of the convenience provided by the technology could bring possible danger to my privacy.


On the other hand, once I accidentally left my cellphone in a store. When I got back home, I realized, that I don’t have it. I immediately “Googled” how to find a location of my phone and Google helped me out 🙂 Find your phone only required to sign into my Google account and I could right away know the current location of my phone! The next morning I came back to the store and got my cellphone back. I was lucky that people were fair and kept my cellphone safely in order to return it to me. Yap, sometimes when your head is a mess – technology might be helpful even without respecting your privacy.

EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy By Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel

If you would like to make sure your privacy is protected while using smartphones, here are some useful tips that were emphasized by By Stuart A. Thompson and Gus Wezerek in an article – “Three steps to protect your phone
Firstly, making sure, that your device isn’t sharing your location with apps. This can be changed in your device settings. It’s great, that after disabling it your locations still will be known to emergency responders.
Secondly, disable your mobile ID. Your ID will not be sent to advertisers and app makers anymore.
And lastly – prevent Google from storing your location. Go to your account’s location activity controls and turning off location sharing.

Participatory culture and privacy

According to the research (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) students have to develop textual literacy as a central skill in the twenty-first century in order to become a part of participatory culture. They must be able to read and write. Moreover, new media literacies should be considered as a social skill.

Youth must expand their required competencies, not push aside old skills to make room for the new. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Being a part of participatory culture enables students to take care of their personal data protection. Meanwhile, educators inevitably take an essential role in this process. Common communication in the digital environment requires knowledge of data protection.

In such a world, youth need skills for working within social networks, for pooling knowledge within a collective intelligence, for negotiating across cultural differences that shape the governing assumptions in different communities, and for reconciling conflicting bits of data to form a coherent picture of the world around them. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

There are so many regulations on data protection such as GPPR – General Data Protection Regulation – really important in all EU countries. FERPA – Federal privacy law that applies to educational agencies and institutions and applicable programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education. COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. IDEA – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy is a great guide to any educator. It includes all of the descriptions of regulations with scenarios.

As a teacher working in one of the EU countries I have to be familiar with and follow GDPR, which had a very big impact on my day to day job. It made me read all the policies even better, check compliance of online tools with GDPR regulations, etc. We have to keep our students’ names, birth dates as well as other sensitive information private. Almost nothing can be shared online without prior parents’ agreement. This created many difficulties in communication and collaboration with students from other schools. For example, before sharing any students’ works to exchange the experience, all the names have to be removed.

My role at school is to ensure the maximum level of students’ privacy and make sure publicly accessible data complies with GDPR regulations. I think all teachers need to have at least a basic understanding of how to protect students’ privacy online as well as be able to explain the main privacy concepts and even more importantly… browser/smartphone settings to students in order to ensure a secure educational process using online tools. This is mostly applicable to Middle and High school students where students are using personal cellphones. As an elementary teacher, I have to make sure, that I provide appropriate digital tools as well as ensure privacy settings on the devices, provided by our school. A great online tool for all educators to begin taking care of students’ privacy – Common Sense Media – it lists out essential steps for enabling a safe digital environment for students. Check out the list of evaluated online resources.

3 Replies to “Privacy Matters”

  1. Hi Julija!
    Thanks for including GDPR among the list of laws governing student privacy. Now I’m curious to know what program my school uses to store student data. I also found the Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy helpful – I spent the time to read through all of it. I am also an elementary teacher, and I agree with you that as elementary school teachers we are the first line of defense when ensuring that our students’ data is protected on the school devices that they use.

  2. Hello, Julija!

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing that video about privacy, so simple and well explained. I totally agree with you about, sometimes that information collected plays on your side rather than against you. It is always bittersweet to me to disable storage location from Google. After my trips it is so convenient to see where pictures were taken, albums automatically created by city, restaurants I visited, summaries of how many new cities and countries I visited, etc. I remember once a was tutoring 4 different students after school and I didn’t keep track of it. To be able to ask for payment I check on my Google Maps Timeline and, done! Every location and time range. Scary. But accurate and helpful. In Panama the equivalent to GDPR is just starting so we have a long journey to complete as a school. Finally, I love Common Sense Media but I am starting to love Be internet Awesome from Google too:

    1. Thanks for your comment, Luis,

      Thank you for sharing your experience using technology as a tool for tracking your journeys. Sometimes it is sooo convenient, that we simply ignore our privacy.

      Good luck with GPPR, it is going to change your collection of teaching resources 🙂

      Be internet awesome is a really great resource. I like the way they’ve updated their curriculum.

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