Posts tagged ‘privacy conundrum’
Back in December, I blogged about Making–and Protecting–your Digital Footprint: Do you Care? Even a Little Bit??, noting that even though I am online quite a bit, I still consider myself one of “The Concerned and Careful” type, especially concerning personal information available about myself and my family online and take steps to proactively limit and/or keep a watchful eye of our online data. As a previous victim of identity fraud, I must say that it changes your perspectives somewhat. Anyway, according to the very interesting and earlier-mentioned Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report from last December, one in five online adults (21%) fall into this “Concerned and Careful” category, so I know that I am not standing alone.
Well, I said in my earlier post that I would return to this topic, and I do so today because of two reasons: one, I just read my fellow Library Garden blogger and friend Amy Kearns’ funny and enlightening Facebook post yesterday about our “digital” and “real” lives colliding, and about me stalking her in Princeton (OK, she was only joking about the stalking part–no really, she was joking). I have to say that, because since showing a journalist during an interview how easy I could find info on her, she quoted me in her US1 article when I jokingly said, “Now I can stalk you.” (note that the link to my Feb. 2008 website on this topic is included, but the article accidentally hyperlinked a period at the end of the sentence, so remove the period from the URL — it should be http://www.kn.sbc.com/wired/fil/pages/liststudentpe3.html (Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint)
Second reason to return to this topic: Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics hosted a free seminar focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft and fraud, offering to the public insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft. It was well attended and there were a lot of questions, especially since the expert panel consisted of detectives, a VP in banking, and professor in health information management, and my good friend–and Rider’s very own web expert, blogger, and manager of information technology–John LeMasney, who, incidentally, already placed his April Google Docs presentation online for us (another detective also joined the panel not originally listed on the website advertisement, Detective Tracy McKeown, and Investigator Bethany Schussler was unable to make it). This seminar was led by Dr. J. Drew Procaccino, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems, who has researched identity theft, biometrics and smart card technologies and co-authored an extensive survey of smart-card technologies published by Elsevier/Academic Press in 2004 (see Drew’s directory page above).
I could tell from the many questions asked of the excellent presenters that there is a lot of misinformation out there on the different types of identity theft, the scope of people who commit this type of theft, the trends, and what we can do about better detecting and preventing this theft. Three blogs mentioned in their handout to help us keep up with the latest and greatest scams, schemes, and trends related to ID theft are:
I would like to add three of my favorite sites (also briefly mentioned in their handout) that I regularly use and direct interested people to for great information, found on my previously mentioned workshop website along with other related information, such as notable social networking sites, personal information search engines, and other online identity and privacy info sites:
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse — http://www.privacyrights.org/
Fighting Back Against Identity Theft — http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Identity Theft Resource Center — http://www.idtheftcenter.org/
OK, still not sure if you should care, or if the whole thing is even worth considering? If that is true, then my guess is that you did not look at any of the blogs or sites mentioned above, yet. At least try doing this–take the ID theft test and/or the PC info safety quiz from the Identity Theft Resource Center.
If you are not happy with your scores, then, reread this post and follow the links when you have some time to do something to help yourself and others. You will be glad that you did!
Remember, just as the experts will tell you, following your digital footprint and obtaining your personal info is easy to do if you are not aware, so easy even a caveman….well, you get the picture! ;)
This weekend, the blogosphere and listservs were batting around two interesting reports: The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report, which was published this Sunday, and the New Media Consortium’s/EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s co-published future 2008 “Horizon Report,” which will be published in late January 2008 (a lot of people, though, are commenting on the report based on their wiki that they use to review, report, and refine their research oriented efforts, which is available now. Although I like skimming this wiki and seeing their Table of Contents and some details, I will wait for the published report–if interested, you can read about and browse the 2004-2007 Horizon Reports on this page.
For now, though, I decided to concentrate on the “Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency” report, which did surprise me a bit with some of its findings. Here is a portion of their published summary on their site:
“Internet users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago. However, few monitor their online presence with great regularity. Just 3% of self-searchers report that they make a regular habit of it and 74% have checked up on their digital footprints only once or twice.
Indeed, most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information. Fully 60% of internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online. Similarly, the majority of online adults (61%) do not feel compelled to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online.” [bold/emphasis is mine]
What surprised me was the section in the summary and report that stated that “Most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information.” According to the “Summary of Findings” from the entire 50-page freely available PDF report, many of us (Internet users) are not concerned about online information on us—see my bolded statements above, which are also found on page ii, as well as four classified categories of online adults concerning this subject: “Confident Creatives (17%)” “Concerned and Careful (21%),” “Worried by the Wayside (18%),” and “Unfazed and Inactive (43%).” Interesting titles and descriptions, by the way–so I read on.
It is just that, ever since I starting doing seminars for school districts and libraries on social networking sites and personal information search engines, a great deal of interest seemed to be generated on not only finding out what was “out there” on them and their “kids” but also on what they could do to protect themselves and others. I constantly get asked about this topic, at just about any type of Internet workshop that I host or present. Maybe many who do ask about it do fall into the “Concerned and Careful,” but that would not seem correct to me, given the concern that I have witnessed concerning the protection of minors and the prevalence of identity theft articles. Remember, the report states that “Just 38% say they have taken steps to limit the amount of online information that is available about them.”
Although this does not seem right to me, I have to remember that they are only talking about “online adults,” and not my mother, for instance. I also do believe that the Pew Internet & American Life Project crew do a wonderful job of collecting their information and putting together their reports, but I am still curious…. We have a few thousand people who regularly visit us here at the Library Garden; How would you classify yourself using their four categories and their descriptions (see below). I would say that I fall into the “Confident Creatives”–the smallest of the groups (although my son would point out that I definitely don’t match the description of a “young adult”—those who most likely fall into this category, according to Pew / Internet).
Taken directly from page 30-31 of the report, see the four categories of online adults based on online footprint concern:
1) “Confident Creatives are the smallest of the four groups, comprising 17% of online adults. They say they do not worry about the availability of their online data, and actively upload content, but still take steps to limit their personal information. Young adults are most likely to fall into this group.
2) The Concerned and Careful fret about the personal information available about them online and take steps to proactively limit their own online data. One in five online adults (21%) fall into this category.
3) Despite being anxious about how much information is available about them, members of the Worried by the Wayside group do not actively limit their online information. This group contains 18% of online adults.
4) The Unfazed and Inactive group is the largest of the four groups—43% of online adults fall into this category. They neither worry about their personal information nor take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found out about them online.”
So, Library Gardeners and readers—what category best fits you, and what do you think about these findings? I guess I just think people online are more concerned with the making of and protection of their digital footprints, but it won’t be the first time that my experience differs with the results of a study or survey.