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The Changing Face of Free Speech in the Digital Age?

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether a teenager's tweets are considered free speech. The case stems from tweets sent between two students, in different states that did not know each other, that included threats of violence in the aftermath of the shooting that happened at Arapahoe High School in 2013. One of the students was arrested for harassment, but his conviction was overturned. Traditionally, for something to qualify as a true threat, there is usually a face-to-face confrontation where the harm would potentially be imminent. Experts now say they believe the courts might eventually need to decide whether a person's fear of harm is enough to constitute a true threat.

Google Introduces New Privacy Tools

According to Gizmodo, Google, the world’s foremost collector of private information, has unveiled a set of tools that will give users more control over their data and make it more difficult for others to track their online activities. Google users will be allowed to navigate in "incognito mode," delete web and app activity history automatically after three months or 18 months, and find and delete information they have shared with the company. Critics called these improvements “marginal” and “privacy theater.” Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, also found the privacy measures lacking. "Unless the Federal Trade Commission is prepared to bring enforcement actions against companies, these promises to protect privacy matter very little," he said.

Districts Need Privacy Safeguards If Using Biometrics

Many schools across the country are exploring the use of biometric technology in capacities beyond just security, such as tracking attendance or managing library loans. Whether a school has already implemented the technology or is just considering it, they should also explore ways to safeguard student privacy, says Tovah LaDier, executive director of the International Biometrics + Identity Association in an article from EdTech online. Parents should also not only be informed about what the technology is and how it is being implemented, but also about how data collected is used and stored, LaDier adds. Is your school or district considering this kind of identification technology?

GPS Can Make Your Car an Easy Target for Hackers

According to Motherboard, hackers can use GPS trackers to gain access to a car with location tracking GPS services, and turn off its engine while it is in motion. An anonymous hacker, who operates in Asia and Africa, told that he was able to break into thousands of iTrack and ProTrack accounts using the initial default password given to customers. This is a reminder to change the password from the default one that comes with your car!  

More Companies are Screening What Kids Do on Their School Issued Tech

An article in The Outline discusses the double-edged sword of having outside companies screen what students do on  school issued technology devices. Gaggle and Securly represent the extreme end of the monitoring today’s students are growing up with. Email, calendars, documents, search history, and other typically private online activities are monitored by these apps. They scan for bullying, bad language, suicide warning signs, and more, reporting any concerns to school administrators or parents. While these kinds of technology can protect kids, some fear it will “undermine students’ expectation of privacy” forever.

Social Media Use Remains Unchanged

It looks like privacy concerns are not chasing away social media users, according to Mashable .The share of adults in the United States on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest has remained basically unchanged since 2018, according to a Pew Research Center report, even though consumers have voiced concerns in other Pew studies regarding data privacy and censorship. YouTube won the popularity contest with 73% of overall users, while younger demographics favor Instagram and Snapchat.

App Helps Manage Privacy on Social Media

As reviewed in The Verge, the new privacy app “Jumbo” on Apple’s iOS is designed to take the guesswork out of user data protection protocols on social media sites. Although some social media sites have restrictions on what the app can do, Jumbo can help manage your privacy on Twitter, Facebook, Alexa and Google search, and plans are afoot to add Tinder and Instagram. So how does it work? For example, connect to your Twitter account, and Jumbo will delete tweets from the time frame of your choosing, let’s say after a month. Your Twitter password is saved to the iOS keychain, not Jumbo itself — part of the company’s effort to collect as little data about its customers as possible. The app is currently free, but eventually we all may end up paying to protect what little is left of our privacy.

Apple’s New Emphasis on Privacy

You may have seen a new Apple ad touting their emphasis on privacy. Skeptics warn not to be lulled into a false sense of security, and say this is just part of Apple’s advertising plan. The company understands that, right now, people desperately want more control over their personal information. And so they are using privacy — this time, the idea of it, not the lack of it — to sell you more devices and streaming services. However, while Apple may collect less about you than some of the other tech giants, they still collect plenty of info, so be sure you understand the privacy settings on your Apple (and other brand) devices. You are the last line of defense on your privacy and that of your children.

Speaker Culture

Voice activated technologies are rapidly emerging and young consumers are increasingly speaking to their devices. The smart speaker is gaining the most traction as a voice-activated device and platform. Already, almost two in five 13-36-year-olds report owning a smart speaker. Voice activated technologies are becoming more mainstream with Gen Z and Millennials—and Millennial parents, the earliest adopters of the tech. Of course there are many privacy concerns that go along with this trend so be sure you are aware of the privacy controls on these devices.

Your iPhone Keeps a List of Your Every Location

There is a feature on your iPhone that keeps track of not only everywhere you have traveled and how you got there, but how many times you have been there. The phone even interprets that data to know, for example, that your dog goes to doggy day care every Wednesday morning.  If you no longer want this feature (although you may want to keep on your kid’s phones for other reasons), you can read the full story on how to get rid of it – with step-by-step instructions - on the Business Insider site.