Online Rights and Safety

Picture of several European newspapers with Wikileaks-related headlines
Photo Credit: The War Logs by Alex Covic

(Note: Although this is still a timely topic, due to the devastating snow storm and resulting power loss throughout the state of Connecticut, I have chosen to repeat last year’s post on this topic.)

Wikileaks Iraq and Afghan War Diaries (note: since December 3, 2010, it has been impossible to reach the site through this URL. For more information on this, see here.) has once again dominated broadcast news in recent days, not only in the U.S., but elsewhere around the globe. Aside from the short- and long-term political, military and economic ramifications from the leak of these documents, one thing is clear: the Internet has made it extremely easy for anyone just about anywhere to virally disseminate information on a global scale.

So what does that mean for you, your colleagues and your students? In this week’s session we’ll take a look at concerns related to online rights and safety as reflected in the multiple perspectives found in our readings. We’ll discuss here how these issues impact us personally and professionally.

I hope you can all find some way to stay safe and warm in the aftermath of Storm Alfred.


13 Responses to “Online Rights and Safety”

  1. soledadre Says:

    Imagine all those videos that we find in Youtube or that someone sends us via email or Facebook; yes, those where a singer is parodied or the dialogues in a film are completely changed… What do you think, are they legal or illegal? The article Recut, Reframe, Recycle presents the study on copyright and creativity developed by the Center and American University’s Washington College of Law. They answer to the question with the notion of fair use. Fair use means that you use those copyrighted materials but transforming them, “adding value to what they take and using it for a purpose different from the original work” (like quoting). In the four minutes video found in the article, the communication professor Pat Aufderheide says that it is a new way of communication, a new way of making culture. She gives the example of a video about the “Worst Music Video Ever” that started a global discussion on the topic. However, the multimedia industry feels it as a threat and is trying to control and remove all those materials from online sites. On the contrary, the study accounts for the creation of a body for best-practices.
    I do not really know about legality, but I know that those videos are a great way to communicate among people (friends or not), to share your opinions or worries, to get information about many different aspects in a snapshot (always paying attention to the possible creator’s bias). In education, those videos can also help our students to know about many different fields, but above all, I think they can help them to see how creativity can be used to make laugh, but also, to promote critical thinking. I consider parody videos, when they involve some critical points, a great way of showing our engagement with something while we make people laugh. Let’s smile in the dark.
    Here you have an example, Bush is a source of so many videos… Bush vs. The Zombies

    • loisramirez Says:

      Thank you Soledad for your summary. I agree with many of the points that you state about “recylced” videos. I think that as long as the video is done for entertainment purposes and not for profit gain, then there should not be a legality issue. I also believe that it is important to make fun of ourselves once in a while, afterall humor is a very important part of culture. Having this in mind I think is a great way to connect topics that might be a bit too abstract with cultural elements that our students can easily relate to. I have a great example, this is video that sampled a well known movie, and poses the topic about the many snow days from spring 2011 and the campus’ heroe Jay Hickey. The students are probably familiar with this video, and the possibilities to integrating it in a class can be endless.

  2. rosariopollicino Says:

    The article Should information about applicants found on the Web but not submitted by them be used in admissions decisions? Is quite clear in its title itself and I found it very interested indeed.

    There is a high percentage of first year students on campus who ask to change their roommate because they have learned more information about him/her on line by googling them. So before they actually met they have an idea which push them in proceeding this request.
    But the problem get more complicated when it moves up in a more professional level and, in fact, another story is about a professor who is waiting to meet a student to discuss his request of dropping her class and while waiting google the name of the student finding out that this student is actually one of those student who enjoy partying very much. Unfortunately what the professor learned on internet doe not really match with the reasons that the student had implied to his/her request of withdrawing like health problems and lots of misfortune in the course which also brought this student in being late to that class very often. What is the result of this situation? Well, as soon as, the professor mentions that she had google the student name, the student himself/herself decide to withdraw the requested of dropping the class.

    But still this getting information from the net can move on into a still more serious situation in which anyone may take part to a conference and be necessarily judged for that attaching the name to the ideology of the conference itself, which is not necessarily true or necessarily agreeing in all aspects shown in a conference
    These examples that this reading has given are simple however the consequences are not that simple. In the case of the student we should think what would happen if the students asks for a reference letter and whether the information present on the net are going to affect the result of the letter requested or worse in case of an application of a job if the final decision is going to be affected by that.

    What do you all think girls? I personally think that whatever has our name on internet really matters especially to future employers who want to get to know as much as they about any candidate before even interviewing for a position. Have you ever found yourself in the position where you know that your name has been googled? I personally did at least once and probably many more of which I am not aware of. One of my students google me and found out I have an account on twitter. Nothing wrong with that but I have to say that I had completely forgot about it and when I was asked I simply was surprised and at the same time glad I do not have a facebook account yet and if I will it would be used just for a professional purpose.

    • marineuconn Says:

      Hi Rosario, the fact that everything is being recorded and kept somewhere plus the fact that we have no control over this information and over who can access it make it obvious that private life doesn’t exist anymore — or that your “private” life can be investigated by anyone. So yes your private life can potentially be used against you when you arrive on the job market — which is new. Facebook has a proclivity for changing the privacy rules without telling you, so don’t put anything personal there…

      • rosariopollicino Says:

        HI Marine

        Believe it or not I do not have even a profile on facebook. I am one of the few and if I will ever I believe it will be for a professional purpose rather than for other reason privacy is still important to me or at least the possibility of sharing something who I want with.

  3. marineuconn Says:

    About the use of Creative Commons

    Both of these articles, 7 things you should know about… Creative Commons and Hitting Pause on Class Videos by Steve Kolowich, convinced me of the great utility of Creative Commons for the academic world (and beyond).

    It is sometimes difficult to obtain permission to include in your course pack copyrighted materials. As a reminder: 70 years after the author’s death are required for a work to belong to the public domain. Otherwise, each publisher or author has to be contacted and it can take several weeks until you obtain permission to use their work.
    With Creative Commons licenses, everything becomes easy and quick. Attached to the work, the license says under which conditions it can be used. Creative Commons licenses offer the authors a range of options, from “public domain” to “all rights reserved” : “all licensed require attribution, and the least restrictive only requires attribution.”
    Creative Commons licenses are particularly adapted to higher education, where faculty and staff are always looking for “up-to-the-minute artifacts” that can be distributed, modified or remixed. Creative Commons licenses simplify their lives and also participate in the improvement of the XXIth-century teaching and learning methods by creating a climate of openness and sharing.
    On the other side, the education world is getting more serious about copyrights law. UCLA has stopped allowing faculty members to post copyrighted videos on their course websites after a complaint (streaming is now restricted to face-to-face teaching activities). The trade group that is at the origin of the claim argued that a password doesn’t protect the video from being viewed in illegal conditions. Professors argued that such a reaction is inappropriate, if anything, it “exposes a new crop of students to foreign films they would not otherwise view, which would lead to new potential audiences”, Professor Robert Cargill says.

    There is a need for an updated – maybe even a rewritten – copyrights law, I think everybody agrees on that. I am quite fascinated by the conflict that is going on between two trends:
    – on the one side, our desire and need for free access to an increasing amount of works
    – on the other side, the will to protect copyrighted works and authors/ inventors in general

    The iPad does something interesting in the way that it allows every artist, even unknown artists, to be remunerated for their work. In return, iPad users have to pay a small amount of money for each song or movie they want to download.
    Even if we already had interesting discussions in class about the use of copyrighted materials in the classroom, I wouldn’t mind to continue exploring this topic…

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Marine,

      Thanks for sharing the summary of the article. I find your two questions very useful. I agree with you in that the copyrights law needs to be developed and adapted. We keep discussing the new reform and revolution in information age and education. There is no longer a strict hierarchy between an expert teacher and an apprentice learner. Knowledge is all-accessible. I agree that we need to have copyrights laws but i think they should be less strict when we use and distribute them for educational purposes. For instance, for your class presentations, it is allowed to use images and videos from the web. However, once you upload them to Husky CT, they become public since the materials on Husky CT are never completely erased. Technically speaking, you are allowed to share your presentation on a course website. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  4. loisramirez Says:

    Have you ever asked yourself what to do if something about yourself is posted online for the entire world to see it? In the article posted on the New York Times by Suzzane Daley called On Its Own, Europe Backs Web Privacy Fights the exact question is being discussed. Many people have raised concerns about the accessibility of personal information online, and how this can be used against them in the future. Several people have sued information companies such as Google, on the basis of virtual privacy, many of these people have been victims of violent crimes; other people are simply concerned that the information found online can be used against them. As the article states, many people are worried about companies having access to their search history and what these companies are doing with the information. Have you ever been browsing online and a pop up comes up with a picture of the exact pair of shoes that you were looking at two weeks ago? Is this crossing a boundary? Their concerns are founded by the historical background and how people have been persecuted due to their ideologies. The United States has a different perspective on this issue than most European countries whom see the accessibility of information as too much and unnecessary. The European perspective on this topic defends the privacy of its people. Some even argue that in cases dealing with criminals, if they have paid their debt to society their case should be also forgotten in the search engines. I would say that I identify with both points of view, I think that we should be able to have access to information about other people, but I do think that there should be boundaries on the type of information that is being divulged or at least what can be done with this information. Besides online privacy acts, there are other tools, as posted by one of my fellow classmates, tools such as creative commons license can be very useful to protect online information.

    • soledadre Says:

      Hello Lois, the issue that you are presenting here is really complex. I really think that we should share and that Internet should be free and open, but I do not think that personal/private information should be used for commercial purposes. Moreover, we also need to respect the author’s decisions over his/her work. I do not really like those ads that pop up just because you have visited a site looking for “rain boots”. In my opinion, they promote consumerism and are distracting. Moreover, they meddle in my personal life. I think it is really important to differentiate between private life (I just share it with whoever I want) and the public one, in which I can share and collaborate in the production of new knowledge (a large community of sharing and learning that do not have to become personal). I do not like those tracking cookies, if you want to monitor my behavior, tell me, if I agree, go on, if not, just stop!! People should have the right to chose which of their information is on the web.

  5. edadedebas Says:

    For this week, my article was Wesley Freyer’s “Google Profiles, Online Reputation Management, and Digital Footprints.” In the article Freyer discusses the significance of creating Google Profiles and how it helps users to control what people can see about them. Google Profiles provides the users with the freedom to control their public appearances. In the article, Freyer insists on the protection of public appearances and lists three important websites to help you control and monitor your online reputation. These three websites are Google Profiles, Friendfeed page, and Claim ID page. He favors for the idea that the users should have the control over their public profiles and have the liberty for online reputation management. For him, it is important to create a digital dossier but for him the main question still remains at stake: When or at what age should we start creating our digital profiles?

    Similar to Freyer’s article, Jason Walker and Dana Boyd discusses similar ideas in their articles “In Defense of Open, Online Communication in Education” and “Real Names Policy are an Abuse of Power”, respectively. The questions that Walker’s and Freyer’s articles raise are relevant to our discussions of academic honesty in an online classroom. We have been discussing how to provide and assure academic honesty in online teaching. Perhaps the promotion of online profiles and reputation managements could serve in both ways: 1) to protect and control our online presence and reputations as a user 2) to ensure academic honesty in an online teaching environment as an instructor.

  6. rosariopollicino Says:

    HI Eda,
    and thank you very much for your summaries both of them are very interesting. Starting with the first one the last question is emblematic and I have to be honest I don’t think there is an exact answer. Internet is a very important tool used all over the world and there are different laws applied to that. According to the differences in law there is a stronger difference in culture which may or may not prevent the use of internet to who is below a certain age. So what age is correct? None of the age we might think 16, 18, 21 and so on, it simply believe where we do live and what kind of use we are going to make with our google profile. Instead I have another question are we 100% sure that these profiles are not accessible to nobody? I strongly believe that when we put some image or we even write something on the net it’s not private anymore even if (for example facebook) give access just to friends or people we really want to.

    Regarding the second summary I believe that honesty is an ethic principle SO or we have it or we do not. So the way we behave as instructor could be exactly the same regardless of the environment of learning and or teaching. I understand that the profile could help in having a kind of more protected environment however now I have a question how many fake profile can be created nowadays? and on top of it not necessarily in a negative way think about second life it is based on avatar and a different person belonging obviously to a real one and think that people has different avatar on second life why they could not use more in the rest of the net?

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Rosario,

      I do agree with your first comment. I kept thinking about the age and the limits of creating a profile, an online appearance. I do not have a definite answer, either. I think the main question still remains at stake: How are we going to asses the students without being sure whether they have fake profiles or not? My idea is that we could have started discussing this topic “Online Rights and Safety” earlier in the semester because it somehow resonates with everything we have been discussing throughout the semester.

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