Category Archives: privacy

Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy and Confidentiality, by Tim McCallum
Time required: ~30 minutes
Number of tasks: 2
Number of quizzes: 2


Privacy and confidentiality is a space of great controversy, in fact I would be hard pressed to write a fiction novel nearly as exciting as the real events which have transpired, in this space, over the last few years.

“In 2013 Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified American National Security Agency documents, sparking a global conversation about citizens’ rights to privacy on the Internet.” (Snowden, 2014)

Earlier this year, Snowden, in exile, gave a TED Talk from a remote location in Russia, via a telepresence robot, which he controlled from his Laptop. During the interview Edward was told “Some people are furious with you. Dick Cheney, for instance, described Julian Assange [1] as a fleabite, and said you are the lion that bit the head off the dog.” (Snowden, 2014)

[1] Julian Assange – best known as the editor-in-chief of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks


Tim Berners-Lee (Inventor of the World Wide Web) with Edward Snowden  at TED. Image taken by Steve Jurvetson CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.



During his Ted talk Snowden said “The biggest thing that an Internet company in America can do today, right now, without consulting with lawyers, to protect the rights of users worldwide, is to enable SSL web encryption on every page you visit” (Snowden, 2014)

We will look at SSL as well as a recent worldwide initiative to implement SSL called “Reset The Net” shortly.

Part 1


“The state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs: the right to privacy; There is so much information about us online that personal privacy may be a thing of the past” (, 2014)


“Having another’s trust or confidence; entrusted with secrets or private affairs”  (, 2014)


In the context of privacy, metadata relates to information about connections; instances of contact between different parties using technologies such as email, voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) and online messenger applications.


Content is the information in the body of the communication. Examples of content include voice, text, data files, videos and images.

Images are particularly interesting as they are now searchable and discoverable on the web.






This image was originally posted to Flickr by Paul Fraser Bird at It was reviewed on 4 February 2013 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.



It is a good idea to check the privacy settings on images which you post to social media sites such as Facebook.

Facebook photo privacy

Facebook provides information about editing privacy settings for photo albums

Facebook video privacy

Facebook also provides information about  video privacy

Part 2 – SSL

Earlier in the introduction we mentioned SSL, let’s take a closer look at it.


Watch the following videos (time required ~ 4 minutes)

Khan Academy video “intro to cryptography encryption” (1:31)

GlobalSign Inc video “What is SSL” (2:15)

[slickquiz id=4]

Reset The Net

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Derek Slater – Google’s Global Policy Manager which gave me a new perspective on privacy, copyright and emerging technologies. I was recently introduced to “Reset The Net” after following a link in an email from Derek.

I have since learned that “Google is upping its efforts … in the wake of last year’s widespread government surveillance revelations by adding encryption to its search engine … Chinese users are already benefitting from the privacy technology … searching for terms in China like … “Tiananmen Square” will no longer attract the attention of the strict government censors monitoring the internet … A recent report from the Washington Post revealed that Google will in future encrypt all searches by default, meaning intelligence agencies like the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) will be met with indecipherable code when monitoring the search engine.” (Cuthbertson, 2014)

Protect Yourself – “The Reset The Net” initiative

Reset The Net has provided a pack which contains information and products for Mac, Windows, GNU/Linux and Phone platforms

The Reset The Net pack also provides information about securing your passwords and adding a second layer of protection using 2-factor authentication. I believe that Google was one of the first companies to introduce 2 factor authentication, the advanced sign in security post on Google’s official blog explains this concept well. Other companies currently using 2 factor authentication include Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Dropbox.

Take a good look at the Reset The Net  – Protect Youself Pack and have a go at the following Quiz

[slickquiz id=3]


Google has begun removing some search results to comply with a European Union ruling. This is a new process and Google processes each request individually. The court set out broad criteria for Google to remove links to information saying that a balance had to be struck between privacy and the public interest when it came to public figures. (ABC News, 2014)

In closing, it is a good idea not to post anything to the internet that you don’t wish to make public. There is the potential for anything on-line to become public. All impressive hacking and espionage aside, issues may arise from something as simple as a close friend (who is able to see your facebook images) innocently downloading and posting your image elsewhere on the web. You never know when you will need your privacy.

As time is precious, I have tried to keep this lesson under the 30 minute mark. If you would like to know more, please ask as many questions as you like in the comments section below.


Snowden, E. (2014). Edward Snowden | Speaker | [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].
Snowden, E. (2014). Here’s how we take back the Internet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014]., (2014). the definition of privacy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2014], (2014). the definition of confidentiality. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2014]
Cuthbertson, A. (2014). Google Begins Encrypting Search in Reaction to Government Surveillance. [online] International Business Times UK. Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].
ABC News, (2014). Google begins removing outdated person search results. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].