Personalized Learning

Always Read Terms and Permissions

Always Read the Terms and Permissions of Technology Tools Before Clicking Accept…

Always read the terms and permissions of all technology tools before you click Accept, OK, or whatever term may be used to get your permission. This is especially important when downloading or using “free” technology tools. Know what you are giving away for “free”.  To access “free” technology tools (and Networks) you might be SHOCKED TO KNOW what you are giving up.  Here is a screen shot of permissions for a tool called Flubaroo 

Notice that Flubaroo would like permission to send emails that appear to be sent by you. They also want permissions to access your email address.

This practice might present a problem for professional people. Would you like to get an official looking email from a teacher, doctor, lawyer, administrator that they did not send, but it looks like they sent it? By clicking the accept button in this example might set up this type of scenario.

Here is another screen shot example; this one is of Google’s permissions. 

Even though you retain your rights to your content, you are giving Google (and those they work with) a license to use your data however they see fit in perpetuity (forever).  Be conscious of what you upload, submit, store, send, or receive through their services, which of course are provided for “free”. Please keep in mind these examples were selected at random, many other examples can be found, just look for them and you will find them everywhere.

Have you ever heard the term “knowledge is Power”? If not, look it up and get a perspective on the saying. Information is power, “Big Data” is power, and Artificial Intelligent (AI) Machines will be power in the not too distant future. What is your role in feeding “Big Data”? If you don’t know what “Big Data” is, research the term and understand its meaning and concept. What role do you want to play in feeding “Big Data”? Companies such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few are collectors of large sums of “Big Data”. What price are you willing to pay for “free” access to these services? Do you care? Or, do you just push the accept button without reading the terms and permissions?

What are you willing to give up if anything, to avoid sharing vast sums of personal data, and information, to “Big Data” companies and organizations that can use you data however they want, based on their terms and use agreements? 

Would you ever give up your smartphone and the fun “free” applications? Probably not right, why, because you are hooked on the convenience, the “free” applications, the “cool factor”, and many other reasons.

As a responsible adult and professional educator, it is my opinion that this information is important to understand, especially for minor children to understand. From personal and professional observations, minors and adults don’t spend enough time reading term and usage agreements, to make intelligent informed decisions, on what they are sharing and posting to “Big Data” collection companies and organizations. Too many people are wrapped up in the “cool factor” of technology.  They need a better understanding that they lose control of all data they post and share, especially to the big “free data sites” and that they lose this, in most cases, in perpetuity (forever).  It is unfortunate that many adults are unaware, of how their data may be used and what permissions they allow. This makes it harder for the adults to share this information with their minor children. The level of data that is given to these for profit organizations for “free”, to do with whatever they please in perpetuity, is unconscionable. The terms and use agreements protect the companies. You cannot sue the company nor have the company remove data if the company uses your data in a way you disagree with. If you share anything with “them” the companies offering “free” technology tools for example, they can use your data as they see fit. This data is tracked, traced and you cannot erase anything you share. Deleting data does not erase data. Even your mistakes are important data.

The question is WHAT DO YOU WANT TO GIVE UP in order to share your data? Do you even care? When I ask for students to raise their hands if they have ever read the terms and permissions of the technology tools they use, there is a lot of laughter and nobody raises their hands. Sometimes one or two students raise their hands. Unfortunately, the same can be said of adults, they just don’t laugh as much. 

Is this an example of learned helplessness? When asked why they don’t read the terms and permission agreements many students complain that they are to long or that they just want to get playing their game, or start using the application and don’t want to spend the time necessary to read the agreement. Which can be as long as 48 pages and over 15,000 words (Apple Store Use Agreement).  Plus, if you don’t agree you cant use the application or service. Think of all the people, that had to push the agree button to make the “big data” companies as big and popular as they are now. Students are always shocked to learn what these agreements contain, once they start to read them.

Even armed with the knowledge of the terms and permissions, most people I have asked, seem to feel compelled to continue using these tools. Giving up access to the “Free Big Data Technology Tools” is too hard. Regardless of what they have to give up in order to use them. The pressure of  feeling alienated by not participating in what is considered convenient, social and “cool” is to strong. Or, in many cases people are required to use these services as part of their work or school experience.

These “free” tools are in many cases designed to foster cost savings for individuals, organizations, and corporations. What used to cost thousands of dollars for office tools and storage space for data is now given away for “free”. The price for “free” is access to, and perpetual use, of all data created using these services. This is an interesting proposition. From my discussions with students, they feel uncomfortable with the tone of this arrangement. When I ask students if they would sign an agreement like this with me or the person sitting next to them, they most always say no and feel somewhat creeped out.

It takes some time to wrap our minds around concepts such as “Big Data”, Data Permissions, Artificial Intelligence development (AI) and the Internet of Things (IOT). These are all very big businesses, with vast sums of money supporting your donation of “free” data. This “free” data can be used as these companies see fit, and don’t need your permission once you click accept. This information has great value for marketing, AI development, trends forecasting, and social monitoring to name just a few of the big ones. Take the time to learn, so the decisions you make are from a position of understanding. Then ask yourself how you want to participate, or not. Believe it or not what you create and share matters in a very big way. As an educator I think it is important that students are properly informed. What do you think? Do you care?

Richard Lehmann MAED


© 1993 - 2020 - R. W. Lehmann - #Tiphour #TIPLAB