How to Teach Your Kids About Digital Privacy and Security

Digital security

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First, tell kids the reasons behind the boundaries you set. When you ask a child not to share passwords or not to send messages to strangers online, also take a few minutes to explain why such behaviors could pose a risk.

Analogies using situations from the physical world can help. For example, children probably know that while it might be OK to share their home address in person with a close friend, it’s not OK to give it to a stranger on the street. But sharing information online, regardless of whom you’re sharing it with, requires extra care. This is because it’s easier for someone online to pretend to be someone else, and for information online to be shared with more than the person you intended. Remind children to check with an adult if they’re ever in doubt about sharing something online. And when they do ask you, explain how you made your decision.

Second, parents can look for examples of good or bad privacy practices embedded in everyday tools that children use. The website for PBS Kids, for example, tells children not to use any personal information, such as their last name or address, in their username. And instead of asking kids to create security questions, which often involve personal information, the site has children select three pictures to create a “secret code.” As children interact with sites like PBS Kids, parents can ask whether they understand why the websites have been set up this way.

Third, parents can check out existing resources related to privacy and security online. Common Sense Media and the Family Online Safety Institute offer great guides about privacy challenges children may face online and how parents can teach kids about them. PBS Kids, too, has created a series of technology-focused cartoon videos and parent guides that include lessons related to privacy and security. The U.K.-based company Excite-ed even developed a series of kid-friendly apps that include privacy-related tips and quizzes.

The task of teaching children about digital privacy and security shouldn’t just fall on parents. Educators are well positioned to help teach kids about these issues, given the increasing use of computers and tablets in schools. Companies who design and market technology also have a responsibility to respect children’s privacy interests.

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Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens

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Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

Be ‘very concerned’ about cell phone searches at U.S. border, says privacy czar

Truck traffic

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New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen asked if that means no Canadian should cross the border with a phone, laptop or tablet unless they have “great comfort” with a U.S. border official inspecting the contents.

“Yes, as a matter of law,” Therrien said, though he acknowledged officers would not have time to inspect everyone’s devices, given the huge numbers of people that cross the border daily.

Therrien agreed with Cullen’s suggestion that nothing in law could prevent U.S. border officials from peeking at a senior Canadian official’s “playbook” on a trade negotiation.

Cullen said one of his constituents was denied entry to the U.S. on health-related grounds because information on the person’s phone indicated a prescription for heart medication.

 

Parents’ social media habits are teaching children the wrong lessons

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Many of today’s young teens were born in an era before social media. By the time they entered preschool, most of their parents had Facebook accounts. And many parents — new to social media — excitedly shared their children’s personal and embarrassing stories. I have written in the past about how parents must consider the effect this sharing has on a child’s psychological development. Children model the behavior of their parents, and when parents constantly share personal details about their children’s lives, and then monitor their posts for likes and followers, children take note. While most parents have their children’s best interests at heart when they share personal stories on social media, there is little guidance to help them navigate parenting in the digital age.

Every App Should Steal Instagram’s Latest Feature

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We all have those moments we’d like to forget. Or, more accurately, we all have those moments we’d like everyone else to forget. And for these situations, Instagram is debuting its best new feature since the Hudson filter: the option to archive posts, rather than simply delete them. Delivered in an update rolling out this week, the new feature lets you go to any old image, tap into the options, and hit “archive.” The post will go into a private gallery. And if you ever want to return it to your feed, there’s a button to unarchive it, too.

I’d like to see every social media service borrow the idea. Because it’s a stupidly perfect solution to a huge problem: that while we grow into ever-more realized versions of ourselves every day, we’re nonetheless trailed by permanent evidence of every dumb thing we’ve said or photographed on the internet in our earlier, stupider days.

Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold

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But the data, if sold, could also be a windfall for marketers, and the implications are easy to imagine. No armchair in your living room? You might see ads for armchairs next time you open Facebook. Did your Roomba detect signs of a baby? Advertisers might target you accordingly.

Jamie Lee Williams, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, said information about the size of a home and the amount of furniture in it could allow advertisers to deduce the owner’s income level. Eventually, it might even be possible to identify the brands the owner uses.

“Especially combined with other data, this is going to be able to reveal a ton of information about what people’s lifestyles are like, what people’s daily patterns are like,” Ms. Williams said.

…What happens if a Roomba user consents to the data collection and later sells his or her home — especially furnished — and now the buyers of the data have a map of a home that belongs to someone who didn’t consent, Mr. Gidari asked. How long is the data kept? If the house burns down, can the insurance company obtain the data and use it to identify possible causes? Can the police use it after a robbery?

…“Your friendly little Roomba could soon become a creepy little spy that sells maps of your house to advertisers,” tweeted OpenMedia, a Canadian nonprofit.