Wednesday, 31 August 2011

ICO privacy education in schools

Positive news from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that has called on schools to teach children about information rights and threats to their privacy online. The need for this was backed-up by research from law firm Speechly Bircham that showed while 88% of secondary students and 39% of primary students have social networking profiles, 60% had never read the privacy policies. Almost a third (32%) didn’t know what a privacy policy was and 23% didn’t know where it would be on a site. Full article from NewMediaAge here and details from the ICO here.

Such a development echoes one of the conclusions of my recent book The Mood of Information. This suggests that in addition to a stronger and clearer regulatory hand, it is desirable that management of one’s informational self should be introduced at a school curricula level in relation to digital citizenship and care over one’s image, as per developments initiated by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). Such developments might focus on increasing awareness and understanding of the nature of profiling, the virtue of informational autonomy, data management, the value of information, and consequences of the intimate relations we maintain with digital technologies in current and nascent semantic environments where both providers and third parties seek to understand behaviour.

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I am director of the Media and Persuasive Communication (MPC) network at Bangor University where I also lecture on political-economy of the media. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Deconstructing Privacy for Peter Lang and leading two empirical projects in connection with privacy perception and the use of new media for smoking cessation. I am author of Creativity and Advertising: Affect, Events and Process (Routledge, 2013); The Mood of Information: A Critique of Behavioural Advertising (Continuum, 2011); and Digital Advertising (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009). Please contact me at if you are interested in Ph.D supervision or consultancy services.