Innovations and Privacy

On this page, you will discuss how computers impact privacy and read and teach each other about data-collection technologies.

  1. Talk with Your Partner Discuss: What are different ways our privacy is affected by computers?
  2. Each pick two sections to read:
    • Smile While We Snap!
    • Knowing Where You Are
    • Knowing Even Where Your Shoes Are
    • Black Boxes Are Not Just for Airplanes Anymore
    • Tracing Paper
    • The Parking Garage Knows More Than You Think
    • All in Your Pocket
    • Connecting the Dots

    In groups of four, split up the reading in Blown to Bits pages 22-35. Each person should pick two sections to read from the list at right. (Make sure someone reads each section).

    As you read, use these guiding questions:
    1. What are the innovations described in each section?
    2. IOC-1.A.4
    3. How are these innovations beneficial?
    4. How do they threaten privacy?
  3. Teach the other members of your group what you learned in the sections you read.
  4. Read the box How Sites Know Who You Are (Blown to Bits page 40).
  5. IOC-1.F
  6. Besides privacy, what other legal or ethical issues are related to computing? Brainstorm a list, then pick one to research and write a page about.
  7. write out your thoughts Pick a computing innovation (a website, a payment method like Paypal, an online indirect login manager like "log in via Google," etc.) and explain privacy concerns that it raises.
photo of Rana el Kaliouby

Rana el Kaliouby is an Egyptian-American computer scientist and entrepreneur specializing in the field of facial expression recognition research and development—in other words, training computers to recognize and categorize emotions. El Kaliouby’s research has helped to move the field out of the laboratory and into the real world. She is the co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, which is trying to close the trust and communication gap between people and artificial intelligence (AI). El Kaliouby warns that there are risks of abuse through unethical development or unethical deployment of AI technology, including the work of Affectiva.

Image from Wikimedia user Cairue

Learn More

  1. Read the section "Little Brother is Watching" from Blown to Bits pages 42-48 for examples of ways people can find out very personal information using online resources.
  2. What rules should we have about online information? Read the section called Fair Information Practice Principles (Blown to Bits page 64-68) to learn about efforts to enact privacy laws and standards. Consider: What laws should we have about privacy? What are some challenges to getting these laws?