Privacy and security online

Security by CarbonNYC via flickr CC

This post is inspired by Vesna’s contribution to the ALIA Sydney blog today and by one I read over at danah boyd’s apophenia blog a few weeks ago.  As often happens to me, I went to comment on Vesna’s post and realised I had so much to say it was probably easier to write my own post!

Vesna questions our online security and how to manage it with all the different accounts, passwords and logins we have to manage both professionally and privately in the digital world we live in.  danah boyd’s post looks at the way teenagers view privacy online – slightly different focus but as I have both (ageing) parents and teenagers using online tools and asking me questions about security and privacy I thought it might be a good idea to post something combining my thoughts on both.  By the way, if you have teens, or work with teens, or even just know some teens, I highly recommend danah’s post on the way teenagers themselves view their online privacy – she brings us the opinions and thoughts of the teens themselves and it’s really interesting reading.

In response to danah’s post I wrote

I really enjoyed reading this ‘work in progress’. I have 3 teenage kids and your research has confirmed my gut feeling about their perspective on this issue of ‘privacy’. With particular reference to Facebook, I’ve tried to frame it for them more in terms of asking themselves what they would want people outside their friendship groups to have access to (eg prospective employers)and how to make it more difficult for the casual observer to see their ’stuff’. I’m also in the privileged position that all 3 of my teens are happy to be FB friends with me and I love the window into their lives that I can get without being obtrusive or invasive.

I think there’s a danger that we adults look at this with adult eyes rather than finding out just what the kids are thinking and doing and your research format lets us hear from the kids themselves. I particularly loved Alicia’s insight into the fact that we are imposing our ‘old values’ onto new technology, whereas they just don’t see it like that.

I don’t have particular concerns about my online privacy, I choose to participate in social media with my eyes wide open, but my online security is probably (definitely?) another matter. I know I make poor security choices, I use a handful of passwords across a multitude of sign ons, logins and accounts both at work and at home. I do use an iPhone app that has most of this information locked away behind a unique, very unusual password – but the reality is that most of my passwords are so easy, or repeated so often that I don’t often need to refer to the iPhone app, I can just remember them off the top of my head.

This is not good. Perhaps I need a touch of the paranoia or fear that Vesna describes as coming from some of the older people she teaches social media – I think I’ve become so blase about the persistent presence of my online identity that I forget it needs to be guarded.  It’s probably time to upgrade my passwords.

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  1. Pingback: Our online identity « Opinions from an OPL

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