Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Web2.0: Security, Privacy, Safety & Legalities

This is a mini response to Richard's "The great Blackboard Facebook mash-up: part two". The issues that Richard refers to in his post have been occupying my thoughts to recently.

I must admit i find myself being a bit blaze about the situation because the massive educational advantages are so strong that it seems criminal not to leverage these fantastic tools to best advantage. With all the talk of security, safety & legalities it's got the whole 'health and safety legislation' feel to it where for either honest or obstructive reasons the most important aspect of education the learning is stifled and creativity nullified.

That said, we at DMU just like any other organisations need to stop skirting around the issue and really identify what the problems are. Are there issues - well let's nail it down one way or the other and start developing some policies - i think i working group needs to look into this.

So where is the security threat coming from? is it from Hackers or from the organizations that are providing the service. I am just about to post messages in various learning networks i am involved with along the lines of "have you ever experienced i case of hacking into your social networking site, wiki or blog". This threat is often spouted, but i have not heard of this being a big problem at all.

So with regard personal data, contributions, data tracking of activity, my question is who is the real danger from? Strikes me that if my first theory is not a big problem then the threat comes from the organizations offering the web 2.0 services.

So institutions like ourselves need to scrutinize privacy policies of sites like blogger, facebook or maybe just google and yahoo! We might find an unpalatable truth that there is not a great deal that can be done, and then choices have to be made.

One choice is creating your own social network with a trusted partner or in house, which can achieve a lot and be effective, but this will not get away from the isolationist approach that will deny access to the world and vice versa.

wrapped up in all of this are personal privacy, security and safety of individual students and the many legal issues that will be faced by institutions and individuals. So do we blaze on ahead with no regard, shy away from the educational advantages or develop a policy that can address any concerns?

ps: on the specific point about retrospectively deleting comments - if you withdraw from a site. If you make a comment, then that's it part of history done - it's part of the conversation - would be a bit strange to me to retrospectively keep stripping comments out when people leave a site. This is one of the issues that students need to be aware of - it is difficult to take things back, comments, photos, videos etc - so be careful about what you are doing?

1 comment:

Suki said...

Threat of misuse in any of our daily activities (i.e. chip & pin) is always going to be there. In regards to technology and these social sites which are now largely accessible to all only heightens the need of increasing awareness as to how we interact and disclose any information on global web sites. The threats do not feel that obvious when you’re typing away securely in your office or home environment; a major key is raising awareness about disclosing personal data (which includes images of oneself) in social networking sites. At the end of the day it’s up to the individual user. Who is going to take responsibility? I think ‘somebody’ should, and SNS should take prime. As consumers we set the demand and we should demand more security in data from these sites. I would like to see these sites go through some technological security ‘pass’ by an official ‘body’ before they are made publicly available to all thus having the certified secure site stamp of some sort. To often the small print should be the large print so that ‘we’ know what we are leaving ourselves ‘open’ to on these social networking sites. I as a rule don’t warm to the idea of having my photo on a social site (ok, no smart comments now!) as well as adding too much information my own profile – I personally have taken that decision. However not all are aware of the possible threats and risks involved and they should know. It would be a shame as you say that they will only stifle creativity, and some form of assessment should be done to the types of threats/risks open to us in our current position. Educationally if SNS do not address these issues, some establishments may make premature decisions which may mean that we lose out on a number of learning opportunities unless we have the dreaded ‘controlled’ space. Is it really that bad!!