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Looking at data and privacy in technology was quite eye-opening for me. I have always known about big tech companies mining your personal information, and  I have seen the headlines of companies like Facebook and Google selling your information. I have even experienced advertisements targeted directly at me. I swear I will even get advertisements about something that I haven’t even looked into buying yet, and I’ve only just been thinking about. I even have friends who have left social media as a stand against the lack of privacy. For me though, I have always lived a blissfully unaware life. I have chosen to turn a blind eye to the negatives, in favour of the convenience and connection the world wide web provides.

Looking at this from the eyes of an educator changes things though. When you involve children, privacy and protection is way more important than what I chose to subject myself too. It is for this reason that protecting privacy and being aware of the risks is so incredibly important. It is for this reason that I keep coming across new information that blows me away and makes me much more conscientious of the dangers of technology.

I came across smaller warning signs of the lack of control we have as a consumer while looking more into this unit, such as Apple not supporting viewing app permissions. It’s troubling to me that they are not willing to share what kinds of information the app collects, especially if it’s things that aren’t even relevant to the particular use of the app. It’s also interesting to me that these app permissions can be different than the privacy policy. It’s concerning that companies are purposefully leaving loopholes in their privacy policies, or they are just not doing their due diligence to ensure things are correct, as both put us at risk.

It’s also noteworthy just how much information is being tracked through these large companies. When looking at what kinds of location information is collected, I came across a part of Facebook that tells exactly when and where you access the platform. I find it quite worrisome that companies can combine this information with traits about someone that they collect from their search history and their web browsing habits, to create a full profile of someone. It’s even scarier to imagine someone being able to access this information for the vulnerable people in our population.

So, although I chose to ignore the facts up until this point, I think this experience has opened my eyes. I am now more aware of just how exposed and at risk we are, and I realize that we must take the steps in order to ensure our own online safety, and the safety of our students. I think that the first step is being more aware to the implications of using technology and make more informed decisions when being online. This means even when that annoying terms of services box pops up, I must stop and think before I quickly scroll to the bottom of the box and push “I accept.”