The future of privacy in the United States will be shaped by the next generation of citizens and consumers, a rising generation that has never known a pre-Internet world.
The broadcast journalist Manoush Zomorodi created a segment called The Privacy Paradox on the WYNC show “Note to Self.” Its premise: “ You love the convenience of living online. But you want more control over where your personal information goes.” (The shows dubbed “The 5 Day Plan” are informative. I learned about an additional way that my iPhone was tracking me. And I pay attention to this stuff.)
Zomorodi’s interactions with listeners caused her to think more deeply about the attitudes toward privacy and digital best practices that she ought to pass along as a parent. At a panel Tuesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, she expressed chagrin at having chosen Yahoo when creating her child’s first email account––and pride at the child’s subsequent decision to sign up for an account with an overseas email provider that offers strong encryption.
Many parents don’t offer any guidance to their children on digital privacy, if only because their children seem so much tech savvy than they are. But Zomorodi’s reflections got me wondering what parents who do think about these matters tell their kids as they begin to use the Internet, or smart phones, or get their first social media account. As Julia Angwin has observed, “if I don’t do anything to help my children learn to protect themselves, all their data will be swept up into giant databases, and their identity will be forever shaped by that information.”