CIPA/COPPA & Children’s Online Privacy

Before taking this course I had never heard of CIPA or COPPA before so in my opinion, these acts are not taken seriously enough, or at least not taken seriously enough for the general public to know about them. While I think it is important that some laws are in place to protect children, I do not think CIPA/COPPA does enough to protect them. As a parent, it was scary to discover that 30% of teens admitted to talking about meeting with strangers in-person. While I think connecting with other children around the world is helpful in teaching American children about differences in culture and privilege, it is hard to know whether the people they are communicating with are actually children. 

COPPA was developed in 1998 (when I was still a child!). It is hard to believe not a lot has changed since then, even with all the advances in technology. In 2013 “the FTC updated the definition of personal information to incorporate geolocation information along with photos, videos and audio files that contain a child’s image or voice.” (Schaffhauser, 2020). This seems like a step in the right direction. While reading the article What to Expect on Student Privacy for 2020  it was a little discouraging to read in the first sentence “we probably shouldn’t expect any changes to it in 2020”. There are over 66,000 public comments that need to be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before any changes to COPPA can be made. One thing I am curious about is how was the age of thirteen was determined to be the age to target. I do agree with Danah Boyd’s comment because as a child I remember lying myself to access a website or software that required you to be older. After reading multiple articles I do not have an easy solution to this dilemma, but I am hopeful that some changes can be made to help keep children’s online privacy and information safer.

Digital Tattoos

I decided to check the privacy of my social media accounts. I followed the privacy steps included in this article from the University of Texas at Austin, but I noticed that they were not up-to-date. I figured out how to check the privacy settings of my Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts and made a few adjustments, basically to make my accounts more private than they already were. While reading this statement really stood out to me “Even with these privacy settings in place, it is important to understand that nothing on the Internet is truly private.” This is something most of us know, but can easily forget. I completely forgot that Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, so technically Facebook owns the content you post on Instagram. While adding photos to Instagram the default is set to share your location. For safety and privacy reasons it is recommended that a user does not share this information with the general public. 

Turning your activity broadcasts “on” in Linkedin will alert your connections to any changes in your profile, such as updates to a resume. Linkedin warns, “You may want to turn this option off if you’re looking for a job and don’t want your present employer to see that you’re updating your profile.” It is nice that LinkedIn tells you this information. To prevent search engines from revealing your Pinterest profile, a user can switch “Search Privacy” from “No” to “Yes”. I did not even realize this setting was turned on. One thing I noticed about a lot of social media sites is that there are a lot of hidden features turned “on” until you turn them “off”. In my opinion, this should be reversed. These actions relate to digital tattoos because your online presence is not temporary. Using a digital archive of the world wide web many posts and photos can be found even if a user has deleted them.

Image via personal Pinterest account
Image via personal LinkedIn account

Acceptable Use Policy at a Public Library

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I currently work at a library system, not a library, but I have worked at multiple public libraries in the past. I chose to research and explore the Joliet Public Library’s (JPL) Computer and Internet Use Policy. I previously worked at the JPL for over ten years. I noticed their website has recently been updated and includes an easy place to find all of the library’s policies, which I think is very important. The Computer and Internet Use Policy at JPL was recently adopted on March 21, 2019. When I was employed there I worked in the Computer Lab and I do remember parents/legal guardians having to sign an internet use policy before their child under the age of eighteen could access the computers. Language from the updated policy states: “Guardians of children under 18 may give consent for their children to use computers and check out Wi-Fi hotspots with unfiltered Internet access.” After reading the entire policy I do not think anything needs to be added or changed.

I think this particular policy would be considered a “responsible use” policy because it focuses on what library patrons and/or those who are responsible for them should do while using the library’s internet. The Youth Services Computer Lab does have filtered internet access but the other computers throughout the building including the Wi-Fi contain access to unfiltered internet. Anytime an individual has access to the internet security of that person’s information can always become an issue. I read an article about phishing scams that gave helpful information about how to prevent becoming a victim of these types of scams. This statement stood out the most to me “Multiple mistakes by individual staff members can be considered grounds for corrective action. Consider revising employee technology use policies and include resources that support cyber security best practices in staff handbooks.” Having open lines of communication for all employees at a public library can help prevent cybersecurity attacks from becoming successful.

Ethics & Privacy in Today’s Online World

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I chose to explore privacy in the online world today. I read a very interesting article called The Real Danger of Alexa Listening to Our Convos about what and how much Alexa (made by Amazon) listens to conversations made near the device, even if the device is not in use. Amazon can then use this information to market certain products that apply to a person’s personal preference and can even determine when you would be likely to shop online and market to you during that time. One of the scariest issues with this type of data collection is that you do not know what else the information might be used for. Could it eventually be used against you in a court of law? Where is the line drawn? 

Another article I read, titled That smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns, is about internet privacy and involves smart TVs and their internal cameras and microphones that can potentially be hacked. The FBI suggests that owners of smart TVs “educate themselves on their device’s security settings (available from a simple Google search), change default network passwords set by manufacturers, and understand how to enable and disable microphones and cameras.” Although, even with these security measures it does not guarantee that a device cannot be hacked. After reading these articles it makes me more aware of privacy issues in general. I already knew that smart devices could record audio at any time, but what can be done about it is my question. Yes, you can take the precautionary steps but that does not guarantee 100% security. I think the biggest takeaway and how it relates to the library field is that it is vital to stay up-to-date on security measures. This would be the best defense against a patron’s library account or other personal information becoming exposed. For example, if I were a library Director I would make sure that the library’s computers, Wi-Fi, integrated library system (ILS), etc. had frequent updates completed and that library staff responsible for those systems understood the importance of privacy to library patrons and the public.