Privacy and safety on the web

Summary of  two meetings with 10th graders, Hof Hasharon High School, Israel.  22 students participated: 7 girls and 15 boys. 

Most participants seem to be concerned that various entities are monitoring their activity in cyberspace and are using private information about them without their consent.

Some participants even called it “espionage.” The concern was raised that smartphones “listen” to participants without their consent. They believe that the proof of their opinion is that they often see targeted advertisements that match what they said on the phone. To some of them this seems scary. On the other hand, some of the participants said they had no problem with it, because it directs them to products of their own interest and this “makes life interesting”.

There was a short discussion about possible solutions. Although some think that the solution is possibly technical-regulatory (it is possible to prohibit such “espionage” by law), some participants noted that the economic motive of commercial organizations is too strong, and this makes it very difficult to deal with the problem.

Some participants said they would prefer social networks without advertisements, but they are aware that today this would be very difficult to achieve because advertising is the economic basis for such networks.