Calif. governor signs bill to boost students’ online privacy

In signing the bill, Brown has made California the second U.S. state to prohibit colleges from demanding students’ social media passwords.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a pair of privacy bills making it illegal for employers and colleges to demand access to social media accounts.

Brown announced on Sept. 27 that he signed AB1844 by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, a Democrat from San Jose. The bill prohibits the state’s employers from demanding user names and passwords from employees and job applicants. The restriction does not apply to passwords or information used on employer-issued electronic devices.

The governor also signed SB1349 by Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco. This companion bill makes it illegal for the state’s colleges and universities to demand social media user names and passwords from students and prospective students.…Read More

How a lone grad student scooped the government—and what it means for your online privacy

The FTC is ill-equipped to find out what companies like Google and Facebook are doing behind the scenes.

(Editor’s note: As the FTC tries to protect consumers’ online privacy—by publishing a report targeting the data-collection practices of mobile apps for kids, for instance, and launching a voluntary Do Not Track program for tech companies—an investigative report from the nonprofit journalism service ProPublica reveals how hamstrung the agency is in these efforts. Here’s ProPublica’s report, which was co-published with Wired.)

Jonathan Mayer had a hunch.

A gifted computer scientist, Mayer suspected that online advertisers might be getting around browser settings that are designed to block tracking devices known as cookies. If his instinct was right, advertisers were following people as they moved from one website to another even though their browsers were configured to prevent this sort of digital shadowing.…Read More

Rutgers student who secretly videotaped roommate texted friend about ‘viewing party’

Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself just days after his encounter with another man was streamed live online, drawing attention to the issue of cyber bullying in schools and colleges nationwide.

Dharun Ravi texted a high school friend that Rutgers University students were having a “viewing party with a bottle of bacardi and beer” to watch an intimate encounter between his roommate and another man streamed online, reinforcing the prosecution’s contention that Ravi wanted to invade the privacy of Tyler Clementi and was biased against gays.

Ravi encouraged his friend Michelle Huang to take a look as well, explaining he had a webcam pointed at Clementi’s bed and “the monitor is off so he can’t see you,” she testified March 5 at Ravi’s trial.

Another text from Ravi to Huang read: “Yeah, keep the gays away.”…Read More

The 10 biggest higher-ed tech stories of 2010

eCampus News counts down the 10 biggest higher-ed tech stories of 2010.

Campus leaders get better at leveraging the power of social media … Data breaches continue to hit higher education, with possible legal ramifications … A new federal law enlists colleges in the fight against online piracy: These are among the many key developments in campus technology in the past year.

In this special retrospective, the editors of eCampus News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant campus technology stories of 2010. To learn more about each story, click on the headlines below.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list? Did we leave anything out? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page.…Read More

The top 10 higher-ed tech stories of 2010: No. 2

The Commerce Department called for the creation of an online privacy “bill of rights” for internet users.

Giving web users more control of their personal information online became a key priority for members of Congress in the past year, as well as for federal regulators and the technology industry, which sought to head off new rules by suggesting guidelines of its own.

The momentum for stronger federal regulations on how data can be used and shared began to grow after Facebook faced criticism late last year for creating complex changes to its privacy polices that made some data more publicly available. Apple and AT&T, meanwhile, were criticized in 2010 for a data breach that revealed the network identities of iPad users, while Google said it accidentally snooped on residential Wi-Fi networks as it collected information for location-based applications.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission proposed to create a “Do Not Track” tool for enhancing online privacy, so that people could prevent marketers from tracking their web browsing habits and other online behavior in order to deliver targeted advertising. And, aiming to set ground rules for companies that collect personal data online and use that information for marketing purposes, the Commerce Department called for the creation of an online privacy “bill of rights” for internet users.…Read More

Facebook stalking of sorority pledges rattles students

The accused Facebook stalker contacted sorority pledges at three universities, and possibly more.

A Florida man accused of using Facebook to harass Louisiana State University (LSU) sorority pledges and pressure them into sending him nude pictures also is a suspect in other states, authorities said this month.

Campus police officers at LSU and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agents on Dec. 16 arrested 27-year-old Mitchell Hill at a home in Key West, Fla., where he works as a chef at a Cuban restaurant.

He’s facing only Louisiana charges so far, but FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said Hill is suspected in Facebook stalking investigations by police at the University of Florida, Florida State University, and possibly other Florida schools.…Read More

‘Do Not Track’ tool could enhance online privacy

The FTC has proposed a new online privacy tool that would prevent marketers from tracking web users' browser activity if they choose to 'opt out' from this action.

Federal regulators are proposing to create a “Do Not Track” tool for enhancing online privacy, so that people could prevent marketers from tracking their web browsing habits and other online behavior in order to deliver targeted advertising.

The proposal, inspired by the government’s existing “Do Not Call” registry for telemarketers, is one of a series of recommendations outlined in a privacy report released Dec. 1 by the Federal Trade Commission.

The report lays out a broad framework for protecting consumer privacy both online and offline as personal data collection becomes ubiquitous—often without consumer knowledge.…Read More

Stage set for showdown on online privacy

After “do not call” lists became popular, more than 90 percent of people who signed up reported fewer annoying telemarketing calls. Now, privacy advocates are pushing for a similar “do not track” feature that would let internet users tell web sites to stop surreptitiously tracking their online habits and collecting clues about age, salary, health, location and leisure activities, reports the New York Times. That proposal and other ideas to protect online privacy are setting up a confrontation among internet companies, federal regulators, the Obama administration, and Congress over how strict any new rules should be. In the next few weeks, both the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department are planning to release independent, and possibly conflicting, reports about online privacy. Top Commerce officials have indicated that the department favors letting the industry regulate itself, building on the common practice of user agreements where companies post their privacy policies online or consumers check a box agreeing to abide by them. Top trade commission officials, however, have indicated they are exploring a stricter standard, one that requires a “do not track” option on a web site or browser similar to the “do not call” lists…

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Do students need more online privacy education?

One privacy expert says colleges should stress internet-use policies in the aftermath of the Rutgers suicide.
One privacy expert says colleges should stress internet-use policies in the aftermath of the Rutgers suicide.

Privacy advocates say the rules regarding internet privacy and appropriate online behavior should be stressed at colleges and universities, especially among incoming freshmen, in the wake of a Rutgers University student’s suicide after a video of him having sex was posted on the web without his consent.

A lawyer for Tyler Clementi, who was a freshman at Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J., confirmed that Clementi had jumped off the George Washington Bridge last month. Clementi’s suicide came days after the student’s private sex acts were made available in an online broadcast set up by two students—Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18—who were later charged with invasion of privacy, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan.

The investigation began “after Rutgers police learned that the camera had been placed in the 18-year-old student’s dorm room without permission,” according to a Sept. 28 release from Kaplan’s office. Kaplan said Wei was released after surrendering to Rutgers University Police Sept. 27. Ravi was released on $25,000 bail.…Read More

Facebook Places: Marketing tool or educational asset?

UK's Facebook Places ad campaign guides students to an educational web site.
UK's Facebook Places ad campaign guides students to an educational web site.

The University of Kentucky, if all goes according to the campus’s marketing plan, could pop up in 1.3 million Facebook news feeds during the fall semester—and students might just learn something about maintaining online privacy in the process.

The Lexington, Ky., university placed six-foot wooden Facebook Places logos in six campus locations with the heaviest foot traffic to encourage students to “check in” using Facebook’s geo-tagging application, which lets users show friends where they are—the campus library, for instance.

Places, which is similar to geo-tagging services Yelp, Gowalla, Booyah, and Foursquare, launched in August and drew skeptical reviews from many in higher education. Facebook users must opt into Places before the application displays the person’s location.…Read More