7.4 No Secrets: Computers and Privacy

Many people believe that privacy is a thing of the past. It’s true that our networked world makes it harder to keep secrets. But there are many things you can do to protect your privacy online. This Huffington Post article clearly outlines some quick fixes you can make in a few minutes.

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The digital technology explosion of the last decade has produced many new threats to our privacy, including some unexpected ones. In this short TED talk, Catherine Crump explains how the automatic license plate scanners used by police might have disastrous ramifications for law-abiding citizens.

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng/id/2149

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Singing the Praises of Big Data?

January 8, 2014

Most of us have an uneasy relationship with big databases: We take advantage of the convenience and freedom they bring to us, but we don’t really like the fact that they know so much about us. Singer/songwriter Vienna Teng captures the tension that exists between those contradictory feelings in her beautiful, slightly chilling Hymn of Acxiom.

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Is Privacy History?—Snowden’s Message

January 2, 2014

Earlier this year Edward Snowden made a decision that changed the world. By leaking top secret government documents to the press, he revealed that US surveillance of private and public citizins goes far beyond what most of us had previously imagined. Because of those leaks, people all around the world are asking important questions about the balance between privacy and security in a free society.

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Why Big Data Is a Big Deal

January 4, 2013
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More and more, we’re living in a data-driven world. In this excellent little piece that aired recently on NPR’s Fresh Air, Geoff Nunberg gives one of the clearest explanations we’ve seen of what Big Data is and why it’s important to all of us. http://www.npr.org/2012/12/20/167702665/geoff-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-big-data

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Uncovering Secrets in Government and Medicine

October 25, 2012
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The information explosion raises important questions about the free flow of information versus the threat to personal privacy. These two TED Talks present cases for more open information in government and medicine.

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Sharing is Caring—or Is It?

August 29, 2012
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The concept of sharing is everywhere on the Internet. In this thought-provoking Huffington Post blog post, Bianca Bosker asks whether Facebook and other companies are using the term to manipulate our feelings and extract information from us.

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The Never-Ending Sales Pitch

August 29, 2012
Smart Phone e-commerce

If you’re tired of ads now, just wait ’til your smart phone gets a little smarter. It may soon deliver sales pitches to you based on your location, the weather, nearby friends, the contents of your last Facebook post, or just about anything else it can link to you.

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How to Avoid a Personal Digital Meltdown

August 21, 2012
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Wired writer Mat Honan recently lost just about everything he had stored on his computer and in the cloud. This NPR story suggests five things you can do to avoid his fate.

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The Web is Watching You

June 9, 2012
Photo from TEDTalk about tracking the trackers

If you think you’re covering your tracks as you explore the web, think again. This TED talk shows how we’re being tracked and suggests what we might need to do about it.

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