Rebecca Herold

The Privacy Professor's
Tips of the

Athletes Take Center Stage, Wave Good-Bye to Privacy


All eyes are on the world's athletes as they prepare to compete in the greatest sports spectacle on the planet this summer, the London 2012 Summer Olympics. And while these athletes may enjoy the revelry, they may not be as keen to have so much attention directed their way. Hanging on to their privacy like a gymnast on the rings, these athletes will need to be on high alert as cameras, reporters and sports enthusiasts watch their every move.

Unfortunately, athletes are not the only ones who must be vigilant about privacy these days. With companies clamoring for the benefits of Big Data, average citizens have increasingly become larger targets.

Read on to learn of a few examples.


Twitter Carries a Torch for Privacy

In mid-May, Twitter published an updated privacy policy, which every Twitter user should read - and other social media sites would be smart to emulate. The policy includes a clearer explanation of the situations in which Twitter will share user information with others. Most notably, the policy provides better clarifications about how your personal information is used than most other social media sites. 

The updates include a new section on how Twitter tailors content. It makes clear that Twitter can use users' contact information to help third-party services, client applications and others find Twitter accounts. While that particular practice is not new, it is much more clearly stated today.
The policy also indicates how users can opt-out of several data-sharing practices, which is incredibly important to privacy-minded individuals.

I find Twitter very helpful to use for sharing information, learning of breaking news and doing research. It's a good option; just make sure you set your privacy settings appropriately. You can find me there: @PrivacyProf 

Facebook Knocks Your Email off the Podium

Facebook is receiving a decent amount of backlash from its most recent privacy misstep. The social media giant recently forced their @facebook.com email addresses upon all users who had not previously signed up to use it - and did so without their permission.

If you don't want this default email used by your Facebook friends, read this article to learn how to change your email back to the preferred address.
From a privacy standpoint, I'd recommend you not use the @facebook.com email address at all. That is unless you want to give everyone at Facebook (and possibly their third parties) access to your email messages.


  Entire City Becomes a Spectator of "Private" Emails

Speaking of email no-no's, a good reminder to use company email systems with extreme caution has popped up in the capital city of my home state.
Four months before the end of school, the Des Moines Superintendent of Schools at the time, Dr. Nancy Sebring, began sending what would end up being more than 40 very personal and sexually explicit emails to a married man who was not her husband. And she used the school system's email to do it.

Very long story short (you can read more here), the emails became public and resulted not only in the likely ruin of her career, but also that of the man who emailed along with her.


Be careful when using that company email, and whenever possible, take personal conversations offline. You never know who is reading and how that information, even if benign, could be taken out of context and used for your ouster!  



Have You Become a Victim of Frictionless Sharing?

Heads up! If you're on a website that permits "frictionless sharing," every click you make inside that site may become visible to your Facebook friends. Here's a great article talking through the upsetting practice and how people are being embarrassed when their reading habits are shouted from the digital rooftops. 

Cops Want Warrant-less Access to Your Cell Phone Data

If they get their way, members of law enforcement will be able to use data from your mobile device to investigate crimes - even without the court's permission. Arguing that search warrants would "cripple" these investigations, entities like the Department of Justice are working hard to gain this valuable access. 
Certainly there are times when such information is necessary for investigations, but requiring warrants establishes responsibility for actions taken and helps to ensure consistent due process in obtaining such records. Some organizations are working just as hard to prevent this from happening. For example, the California Senate recently passed a bill to prevent such searches, and apps have been created to encrypt all mobile device communications to prevent wiretaps from getting to private data.
If you're in London for the Olympics, be aware that the police there are already scanning the communications.

Full Slate of Events for the Privacy Professor

I'm so honored to be able to participate in privacy-related events, and I truly enjoy meeting people while I'm traveling around the country. Please take a look at the schedule below and let me know if you're planning to be in attendance.

July 18, Seattle: IAPP CIPP Foundations Class

July 19: Seattle:  IAPP CIPP/IT Class

September 11, St. Louis: Secure World Expo Keynote, "Meeting Privacy Challenges at the Speed of Technology and Business"

September 19, San Francisco: Secure World Expo Keynote, "Meeting Privacy Challenges at the Speed of Technology and Business"

**For a recording of my recent ISSA webinar, "Social Media Gone Wild," follow this link.
Enjoy your own summer travels and this year's Olympic games. And stay cool out there... we've already hit the triple digits in Iowa! For my U.S. friends, enjoy a spectacular Independence Day celebration!
Rebecca Herold & Associates, LLC
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