This post is not only in the honour of the recent FTC / Facebook settlement but also to illustrate the irony of teaching a moving target:

On 11/8 after discussing privacy issues in class, I checked out a Finnish news site and found out that a hacktivist group had just publicized personal information of 16000 Finns (my info included). They had gathered the info by hacking into several databases. They also brought down the websites of the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Police.

They declare that with this form of activism they wanted to draw people’s attention, among other things, to how carelessly official and commercial organizations deal with people’s private information. Here’s their manifesto (they claim to be a part of the global activist group Anonymous, but Anonymous denies that) .

So my students have been blogging about their take on privacy, in my case and theirs, and more generally. All of them agree: Privacy as a concept or practice no longer exists and there is no way to establish that. While everyone seems aware of dangers of digital living, few seem to care in practice.

Many observe that convenience of e-commerce overrides concerns of identity theft, and the like. Some candidly write  about the guilty pleasures of “Facebook stalking” and googling someone (that most likely most of us engage in). A few note that the advantages of controversial services such as the Google Street View have so many advantages, too.

One student notes that adjusting to digital living without privacy is a generational thing, something that parents might understand. The student’s view is that absence of digital privacy, in fact, equals more accountability, transparency. For a digital immigrant like myself, this one is a tough truth to swallow.