Home Talking to Those Who Like Technology But Don’t Consider Its Dangers

Talking to Those Who Like Technology But Don’t Consider Its Dangers

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is hoping that its two new public service announcement spots will shine light on privacy in the information age for ordinary consumers as well as the techies who fly Virgin Airlines, where the spots will be shown as part of the in-flight entertainment. One spot showcases license agreements that come with digital books; the other talks about online behavioral tracking.

How much do ordinary consumers know about their digital rights and privacy?

Facebook’s privacy policy changes brought the issue into the mainstream, but often with the caveat that many users don’t understand the implications of what they share online. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a multi-part feature about privacy issues on the Internet that made some tech bloggers roll their eyes – but more than half the WSJ’s readers in the poll connected to the stories rated themselves “very alarmed” about their privacy.

“Hopefully lots of tech-inclined folks will get something out of the PSAs, of course, but they’re particularly angled at the “tech-liking public” – folks that know and like technology, but may not be in the practice of thinking critically about the rights and freedoms implicated by new developments and trends,” said Richard Esguerra of the EFF.

The spot with the endless license agreement in the bookstore is a reference to the fact that e-book and e-reader users must sign these endless, inscrutable agreements that frequently include provisions intended to allow some kind of recording of users’ reading habits, or intended to keep users from moving the digital content, or modifying the device.

“A lot of these restrictions controvert the kinds of protections and liberties we’ve had with physical books for years,” Esguerra said. The EFF website has more information about privacy issues regarding e-books.

The spot with the shopping couple raises awareness of how users are tracked by advertisers on the Web, building profiles about their behavior and interests.

“Advertising is a core aspect of business on the Internet, but there are important discussions to be had about putting meaningful limits on that kind of tracking. Again, in concert with the theme: the digital equivalent of a passing conversation between a couple on the street may result in the kind of eerie or invasive interaction depicted in the PSA,” Esguerra said.

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