What Sheila’s seen this week: i-rights and the right to forget

What rights do you have online? If I’m honest I don’t actually know. I think I’m probably digitally savvy enough to be conscious of what I share online, with who and why. I know that I share too much data with Tesco and Amazon but I comfort myself with the fact that I get some trade off somewhere. I’m also lucky (aka getting old), in that when I was doing stupid things when I was growing up, they could only be shared within a relatively small circle – not potentially the world via Instagram. The mistakes I made, are now long forgotten and would take quite a bit of effort to find. As we all know it’s not quite like that anymore.

Like many this week, the i-rights campaign and this article by Suzanne Moore about the importance of the right to forget have caught my eye.

“iRights is a civil society initiative that seeks to make the digital world a more transparent and empowering place for children and young people (under 18) by delivering a universal framework of digital rights, in order that young people are able to access digital technologies creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.”

The 5 i-rights highlighted by the campain: the rights to: know, remove, support and safety, make informed and conscious choices, and digital literacy are actually universal – not just for the under 18s.  Being connected online should allow us to share, connect, explore, make mistakes as and when we choose. But in the Big Data world it’s not that straightforward.

“The exchange of information is an essential component of the digital world. However, it is inappropriate for a third party, commercial or otherwise, to own, retain or process the data of minors without giving them the opportunity to retract it or to correct misinformation.”

We believe children and young people should have the unqualified right, on every internet platform or service, to fully remove data and content they have created. This must be easy and straightforward to do.”

Our data should be ours, not the plaything of big businesses and advertising. As I said at the beginning of this article I am aware of some of the data I am willing to “give away”. I’m equally aware that I am probably giving away far more than I realise, and that I have little control or indeed options about getting it back or deleting it.

Education is central to the well being all parts of society,from pre-school to university and beyond. So let’s all start asserting our i-rghts and provide our children, young people and not so young people with the capacity to live, work and create useful, safe and when necessary, disposable digital environments where individuals not businesses control their data.

4 comments

  1. Thanks Sheila – I hadn’t heard of that campaign. It made me think about student content and access in university VLEs. When I was teaching, I was very uncomfortable with students’ lack of access to previous year’s modules in Blackboard – and slightly uncomfortable with them having no choice about their work being added to the Turnitin database. But the set of actions and decisions that resulted in Blackboard rollover and Turnitin becoming institutionalised are complex and were largely beyond my control. Institutions and IT implementation both tend to create gulfs between people using tech and those deciding about it.

    • Thanks for the comment Frances. We have similar issues with access to previous modules and Turnitin, however I’m hoping that some of the discussions and focus on data and analytics we’re having in institutions and the wider sector can help bring more of a user perspective to these issues too.

  2. The bit that jumped off the page for me, Sheila, when I read Suzanne Moore’s Guardian article was: “Our kids are being groomed, not by sexual predators, but by huge global brands.” But are young people also being ‘groomed’ in a sense by educational institutions? The deal could be interpreted like this: we, the institution, will lure you by providing the things you most desire, exam success and qualification, but in return we will own your information and coursework, and keep it forever for our own purposes (including Turnitin, as Frances has mentioned in her comment). It could actually be challenging for educational institutions to meet iRights’ declaration that “it is inappropriate for a third party, commercial or otherwise, to own, retain or process the data of [young people] without giving them the opportunity to retract it…” Surely the longer-term answer must involve moving away from systems and repositories of learner data owned and controlled by institutions (e.g. Moodle and Blackboard) and develop systems and cultures that give all learners ownership, in every sense, of their own work, their own data and their own learning (e.g. portable learner-controlled e-portfolios).

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