As privacy “goes mainstream,” some of the issues that were once a prerogative of experts and B2B publications start making their way into everyday conversations, newspapers and even parenting manuals.
I remember attending a children’s online privacy event in 2007 that was all about complying with the U.S. COPPA, and verifying children’s ages or parental consent. This was before the advent of smartphones and tablets, so children actually had to sit at the computer to play games. At the time, having an avatar on Second Life was also actually hip, not one bit creepy.
This week, I have been reading numerous news stories about children’s online privacy, but the focus now is completely reversed: Children’s digital footprints, “data permanence” and how to educate children to protect their privacy today to avoid consequences tomorrow.
Julia Angwin, who delivers a keynote address at this week’s IAPP Global Privacy Summit, explained in a feature for The Wall Street Journal that she refrains from posting pictures of her children on social media and goes to great lengths to erase her children’s digital footprints. “If I don't do anything to help my children learn to protect themselves, all their data will be swept up into giant databases, and their identity will be forever shaped by that information,” she wrote.
Wired published a similar story, adapting Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s book The New Digital Age. Schmidt and Cohen argue that parents today need to have the awkward “privacy talk” with their children. “It’s [about] data permanence. How we can preserve our reputations in the digital era?”
“Data permanence will be one of the defining issues of the coming decade,” continue Schmidt and Cohen. “It brings challenges and benefits, and we still are only beginning to sort it all out. To paraphrase Charles Kettering, we will be spending the rest of our lives living in the future.”
Rita Di Antonio
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