With the continued adoption of learning analytics in higher education institutions, vast volumes of data are generated and “big data” related issues, including privacy, emerge. Privacy is an ill-defined concept and subject to various interpretations and perspectives, including those of philosophers, lawyers, and information systems specialists. This paper provides an overview of privacy and considers the potential contribution contemporary privacy theories can make to learning analytics. Conclusions reflect on the suitability of these theories towards the advancement of learning analytics and future research considers the importance of hearing the student voice in this space.
I bring this up because of a strong tension I noticed at the recent Library Technology Conferencebetween library notions of privacy and academic libraries’ salutary desire to use various forms of patron behavior data to improve websites and other services. How much are we willing to snoop to get better at what we do? How do we gauge potential (not actual, let us pray) harm to patrons? When we do decide that snooping is worth the risks, how do we protect our patrons from data breaches (making the news at too many higher education institutions of late) and reidentification attacks? How do we avoid participating in today’s sinister commercial and political nightmare of greedy, thoughtless, not-always-disclosed physical and digital surveillance? Does performing surveillance in our much-trusted libraries not legitimize the other surveillance regimes?
A fiduciary duty would limit the rights the company would otherwise enjoy to collect, collate, use and sell personal information about the end user. In particular, there would be no general First Amendment right to disclose sensitive data or use sensitive data to the disadvantage of the end user. (To be sure, such a right might exist in certain circumstances depending on how strong the fiduciary duty was and whether the duty allows waiver or consent to disclose in certain circumstances.) The online service provider would also have to consider whether its information practices created a conflict of interest and act accordingly. Moreover, the online service provider’s duties of loyalty and care might require it to disclose how it was using the customer’s personal information.
My source told me, and I can confirm, that Adobe is tracking users in the app and uploading the data to their servers.
- Ars Technica independently confirms many details.
- A second confirmation comes in from Liza Daly of Safari Books.
- Tests show that earlier versions of Adobe DE don’t spy on users.
- Adobe responds.
- Bluefire comments on the story.
- Adobe responds to the ALA (and what I’ve learned since this story broke)
- Digital Editions 4.0.1 is released, and does not spy on users.
- The EFF confirms all of my initial report.
And just to be clear, I have seen this happen, and I can also tell you that Benjamin Daniel Mussler, the security researcher who found the security hole on Amazon.com, has also tested this at my request and saw it with his own eyes.
They may be a day late and a dollar short, but Adobe has finally responded to yesterday’s news that they were using the Digital Editions 4 app to spy on users.
The American Library Association reported yesterday that Adobe has responded to the ALA’s concerns about the recent revaluations of Adobe spying on users.
The White House released a long-awaited report Thursday on how the technology industry’s collection of big data affects the online privacy of millions of Americans.
The report, authored by a group led by White House counselor John Podesta, makes several recommendations on how the government can grapple with the way widespread data collection affects the online privacy of average Americans.
The report recommends that Congress pass national data breach legislation, extend privacy protections to non-U.S. citizens, and update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which controls how the government can access e-mail.
Yahoo is watching you, whether you like it or not.
Yahoo said this week that the company will stop honoring “Do Not Track” requests made by a user’s browser. It will now actively attempt to track your interactions with its site and its content.
“Here at Yahoo, we work hard to provide our users with a highly personalized experience,” the ironically named “Yahoo Privacy Team” wrote in a blog post. “We keep people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the world. We fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one.”
Yahoo’s team claimed that Yahoo was originally the first major tech company to implement “Do Not Track,” which, in reality, is more of a request from the browser to the Web site than an order. Yahoo said it had yet to see a single privacy standard that is “effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.” For that reason, as well as its desire for “personalized” experiences, Yahoo changed its policy.
“It is unrealistic to expect the private sector to withstand the actions of nation-states,” Admiral Rogers said. “I think it is also unrealistic to expect the government to deal with this all by itself. How do we create the partnerships that allow us to work together as a team.”
A partnership with Silicon Valley corporations is likely to be an uphill battle. At a recent Apple event, Timothy D. Cook, the company’s chief executive, said that the company’s priority was to protect consumer privacy and that it would not loosen security or encryption for intelligence-gathering efforts.
“There’s been some comments from some law enforcement types that said, ‘Hey, this is not good, we don’t have the flexibility we had before,’ ” Mr. Cook said. “If law enforcement wants something they should go to the user and get it. It’s not for me to do that.”
Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cell phone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers’ Internet activity, even when users opt out. The data can be used by any site—even those with no relationship to the telecoms—to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices, including which apps they use, what sites they visit, and how long. MoPub, acquired by Twitter in 2013, bills itself as the “world’s largest mobile ad exchange.” It uses Verizon’s tag to track and target cellphone users for ads, according to instructions for software developers posted on its website.
Twitter declined to comment. AT&T said that its actions are part of a test. Verizon says it doesn’t sell information about the demographics of people who have opted out.
This controversial type of tracking, known in industry jargon as header enrichment, is the latest step in the mobile industry’s quest to track users on their devices. Google has proposed a new standard for Internet services that, among other things, would prevent header enrichment.