Response to “Learning analytics and beyond”

I really enjoyed reading Brigitte’s post about her concerns with data collection by universities. This is an area that I have strong views on and am very concerned about the direction public opinion is moving. Social media giants (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter etc) have created social norms that promote the idea that sharing is right, and by extension, safe. An environment has now developed, where discussion or protest about the lack of transparency regarding retention and usage of our personal data is often met with accusations of being anti-social, paranoid or supportive of criminal activities.

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Two Pew Research Center surveys found that many Americans hold “exceedingly low levels of confidence in the privacy and security of the records that are maintained by a variety of institutions in the digital age” (Madden & Rainee, 2015). Interestingly, closer to home, a report by the Centre for Internet Safety found that “overall, women feel more secure than men online, and younger people (18-29 years old) feel more secure than older people (50+ years old)” (2012). So why is there not greater protest for governments to better protect the privacy of citizens? One reason may be that corporations and institutions are deliberately making their terms of service and privacy tools excessively difficult for users to understand (Bryant, 2010).

I think the answer to this issue is evident. New laws need to be made that give citizens the ability to better protect their own data and personal information. Corporations and institutions need to be more transparent about the data they collect and held accountable, when privacy laws are breached. Unfortunately, I think there is little chance of these changes occurring, while those with the power to create and enforce new legislation and influence public opinion are benefitting from easy access to the personal data of unwitting populations. Perhaps when the inconvenience of personal data being unprotected finally reaches a breaking point, sufficient pressure will be placed on governments to bring about necessary change.

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References

Bryant, M. (2010). Users Tell Facebook: You’re Too Confusing. The Next Web. Retrieved 20 August 2016, from http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2010/04/06/users-facebook-confusing/

Centre for Internet Safety (UC). (2012) (p. 1). Canberra. Retrieved from http://www.canberra.edu.au/cis/storage/Australian%20Attitutdes%20Towards%20Privacy%20Online.pdf

Madden, M. & Rainee, L. (2015). Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved 20 August 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/

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