Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Security vs. Privacy Resources

Some resources you might find useful as you write your security vs. privacy papers...

Here's the statement we argued during our in-class debate:

The US government should be given wide latitude to use electronic surveillance in the interests of national security, even if that means citizens’ privacy is not always respected.

And here are the notes that our notetakers took during that debate. (You should be able to view that Google Doc if you have a Vanderbilt student email.)

And several resources relevant to our discussion of Little Brother earlier in the semester, including a photo of the debate map we constructed.

And, finally, just in case it's helpful, your takeaways from the course, from our last class session:

 

Bookmark #6

For your sixth and final bookmark assignment, you should bookmark THREE resources of potential use for the "security vs. privacy" paper assignment. At least two of your resources should be from 2013 or later (that is, post-Snowden), and all of your resources should be from credible sources. (You might see what's being shared on my "Crypto" Twitter list.)

Save your bookmarks to our Diigo group, and give each of them at least two useful tags. Your bookmarks are due by 1pm on Friday, December 1st.

Paper #3 - Security vs. Privacy

Here's the info on your final paper assignment.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

The other day in class, I asked you to respond to this short, terrible play:

  • Teen: “If my dad monitored my Instagram, that would mean he doesn’t trust me.”
  • Dad: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?”

First, I asked you to role play the teenager. How might you respond to the dad? Here's a capture of what you suggested.

Then, I asked you to role play the parent. Why might a parent want to monitor their teenager's social media use? We broke out the Post-it notes for this.

You did a great job exploring a position that most of you (it seemed) did not initially agree with. Keep this in mind when you're writing argumentative essays in the future. To make a compelling case, you have to take the other side’s perspective seriously, understand it, and respond to it.

Blog Assignment #10

For your next blog assignment, read Singh Chapter 7 and imagine you're writing a research-based argumentative paper on some aspect of the chapter. Draft one possible thesis statement for such a paper and share it in the comments below. Your statement should differ in some way from the ones that precede it. Your contribution to this thread is due by 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15th.

(This is something of a warm-up for your final paper assignment in this class, for which you'll put together a research-based argument on some aspect of the security/privacy debate.)

14 Comments

The Danger of Old Social Media Posts

"In DC, I met an African American seventeen-year-old named Shamika who found that her peers loved to use old status updates and point to them in a new context in order to “start drama.” She found this infuriating because the posts that she wrote a month ear- lier were never intended as fodder for current arguments."

During my reading of it's complicated, this quote particularly caught my attention, due to how many real life examples of this occurring in the real world exist. For instance, a few weeks ago ESPN started a new show called Barstool Van Talk which featured two bloggers about that day's events in sports. However, after the first episode aired, old tweets began to surface of hurtful tweets sent by the owner of the company, Barstool Sports. As a result, ESPN canceled the TV show and even completely amended their internal social media policy. However, this points to a larger issue which is that the distinction between what is socially acceptable and what is not socially acceptable changes on a daily basis. While that is most likely a good thing, as we become more tolerant of others and more respectful of their beliefs, that creates a unique predicament with old social media posts that were once considered "socially acceptable" but now are deemed unacceptable. It's one thing if someone tweets about something that can be construed as offensive in this time, but how do we handle older posts, often six or seven years old that are instigatory. For me, this causes me to take a closer look at the costs and benefits of posting on social media at all. I rarely tweet at all, and if I do it is simple commentary on sports. I worry that something I say because I am feeling a certain way at one point in time could be used against me in a job interview or something in the future. Perhaps I am too niëve  and I have nothing to be worried about. But maybe I do.

Even yesterday in a group chat with many of my friends, people began to post embarrassing photos from many years ago on Instagram. While none of these photos were offensive or anything like that, it obviously hurt the person whose photo was being  poked fun at. While there is no definitive answer to the age old question of whether social media is "good" or "bad" this certainly adds another wrinkle when thinking about dangers of social media.

Alicia's Definition

‘I just think it’s different. . . . I think privacy is more just you choosing what you want to keep to yourself’ says seventeen-year-old Alicia.

Now I have heard many scholars and experts try to pin a definition on privacy, but this, by far, is the best one in my opinion. Without trying to explain too much, Alicia captures the take that many people, both adults and teens, have on privacy in the context of social media.

If you choose to share something about yourself on social media, it does not necessarily mean that you do not care about privacy itself. It just might mean that whatever you shared is not worth the effort to keep private.

Because this ‘new’ definition is by a seventeen-year-old girl, many older folks (mainly parents) might not agree with it, but many of them might be surprised to find out that it is not so new. In fact, it is the same form of privacy that they grew up with.

Social media may have been non-existent, but thought process people used back then was the same: Share whatever you do not care about, and keep what you do care about to yourself. It has always been that simple (at least in modern history) and still is.

If that is the case, then maybe parents should think about lightening up and trusting Alicia as well as the rest of us teenagers.

Our Version of Privacy

“Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for  privacy God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online.” - Emily Nussbaum

I strongly disagree with this statement, as it makes a lot of assumptions about today's youth. Maybe the vocal minority do all of the things stated above, but the vast majority of us are very private about our lives. I, for one, have all of my social media behind a private wall, and even then I pay careful attention to what I post. The same goes for all of my friends. I don't know a single person who has posted a 'dirty photo' online, and I've only heard of those types of photos circulating a handful of times. Sure, some of us might post our diaries, but we're doing it behind closed doors, on private accounts, for very specific people to see. While older generations might not consider this private, it's more than enough for our generation. As teenagers, we present a very cultivated public online presence to the world, one which doe does not include rantings or poetry or 'dirty photos'. We post things that make us look good. Everything else (things that won't make us look 'good') is private, in a sense. So, yes, we do have a sense of privacy.

The Debate of Privacy Among Different Generations

"Teens will regularly share things widely on Facebook simply because they see no reason to make the effort to make those pieces of content private" (Boyd 62).

In Chapter 2 in Boyd's novel, I find this quote to be very relatable. While I do not consider myself an active poster on Facebook, this applies to other social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. When attempting to explain the concept of these new apps to my mother, who is technologically challenged, she often rebuttals with Boyd's common perspective of parents viewing these posts as irrelevant and even sometimes as a violation of my privacy. While I am not doing anything wrong, it is just the competition of mindsets of different generations. For example, when considering to post a happy birthday post on Facebook or tagging my friends in memes, I could send it by text or I could even copy the link of the meme and send it through more private means. However, it just does not seem necessary to go through the extra steps when it does not matter whether others will see this post. Just because I don't find this particularly necessary to send privately, does not mean I do not care about my privacy rights. In this regard, matters I truly want to keep private I ensure are not posted on any social media. On another note, Boyd references a student that erases her daily usage on Facebook to prevent people from using her previous comments against her later on. I disagree with this because I think while comments can be trivial, one should always consider the implications of their posts and, therefore, if they do not want to accept the consequences for their possible posts, they should not be using social media.

Privacy Through Effort

In It's Complicated, by Danah Boyd, she discusses the complicated situations teens face with social media. A big topic of discussion is privacy: "The default in most interpersonal conversations, even those that take place in public settings, is that interactions are private by default, public through effort...  In other words, when participating in networked publics, many participants embrace a widespread public-by-default, private-through-effort mentality" (Boyd). It is said that a verbal conversation (in person) is a private act, that is only public when made to be. On the other hand, an interaction on the internet is public, an only made private when made to be. This statement catches my attention because it focuses on social norms in reality versus expectations of the internet. In real life, people are expected not to ease drop one another, intrude on conversations, or not interact unless brought into the conversation. On the internet, however, all of these expectations become void, as the internet is a public place. A person has to go through special care to make sure something is private, rather than assume that others are not paying attention. It makes you think, are your conversations private at all? Probably not. Just because it is not considered socially acceptable to listen in on a conversation does not mean people do not do it. Privacy of your affairs should never be expected, but rather always assumed to be public by default. It is in our nature to be curious, and at times that leads us to be intrusive. It is never safe to assume that something is private, especially just because it is socially expected to be. The only fool proof way to achieve privacy is through effort

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