8-533 / 8-733 / 19-608 / 95-818: Privacy Policy, Law, and Technology

Homework 1 - due September 4, 2014

Don't forget to properly cite all sources (including assigned readings) and include a bibliography with all homework assignments. In homework 1 you will get points for your properly formatted bibliography. In future homeworks you will lose points for improper bibliography formatting or not including a bibliography.

Reading assignment: August 28 - September 4 readings

1. [10 points] Review some of the suggested on materials on avoiding plagiarism and make sure you understand them. The following are three attempts at paraphrasing the conclusion of the "Nothing to Hide" paper. For each one, decide whether or not it contains plagiarism and provide a brief explanation to justify your decision.

Conceptions of privacy underpin nearly every argument made about privacy, including the "nothing to hide" argument, which represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving privacy. If we do not exclude from consideration the other problems raised in government surveillance and data mining programs, the "nothing to hide" argument is a loser (Solove 2007).
Solove (2007) writes that the "nothing to hide" argument misses important dimensions of privacy and results in a very narrowly focused debate. He argues that when we consider privacy more broadly, we see that this argument "has nothing to say."
As Solove (2007) writes, conceptions of privacy are at the root of nearly every argument ever made about privacy, causing people to talk past each other when discussing privacy issues. We can better address privacy problems by focusing more specifically on the related problems. Rather than using the singular and narrow "nothing to hide" argument, we should confront the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure.

2. [20 points] Make a one-page "collage" by photocopying the contents of your wallet on a single sheet of paper (alternatively you may scan it or take a picture of it with your phone or a digital camera). You may "edit" your collage by leaving out items or by blacking out information on items you do include. Your collage will be passed around the classroom for your classmates to see and turned in for grading. Don't staple this question to the rest of your homework. Leave it loose so it can be passed around the class, but make sure your name is on it.

3. [60 points] Read the assigned excerpt from The Circle. In this excerpt, Mae and Bailey discuss three statements:

Write a short essay, 500-800 words, in which you argue for or against any or all of these statements. You should use the other papers and chapters you read in this class (or other readings you have done outside of this class) to support your argument. Make sure you properly cite your sources and include them in your bibliography (see below). Your bibliography is not included in the word count.

4. [10 points] Choose a bibliography format and use it to prepare a bibliography for all of the chapters and articles you cited in this homework. Please indicate at the top what format you are using (for example, Chicago, ACM, IEEE, etc.) and provide a URL for where you found the instructions for using this format. It would be a good idea to choose a format typically used by conferences or journals that people in your field publish in. Feel free to use Bibtex or Endnote or other automated tool to generate your bibliography, but also find the formatting instructions and verify that your bibliography is properly formatted before you submit it.

5. [20 points] 12-unit students only: Read one of the optional readings on the syllabus for this homework period. Write a short summary of the reading (3-7 sentences - do not exceed 7 sentences!). In a separate paragraph, provide a "highlight" for that reading. This can be something new you learned that you found particularly interesting, a point you would like to discuss further in class, a question the reading did not fully answer, something you found confusing, a point you disagree with, or anything else you found noteworthy. Here is an example of how to do this, taken from a previous semester's reading assignment.

Smith Introduction - Summary: Americans value personal privacy, but they also ask for and provide a lot of personal information. Thus, there is a tension between privacy and curiosity. Throughout history, people have become more interested in protecting their privacy each time new technology is deployed that intrudes on their privacy - especially when that technology is "in the hands of large and powerful organizations," [Smith 2000]. The Web raises new privacy concerns because it places the ability to snoop in the hands of individuals.
Smith Introduction - Highlight: Smith portrays curiosity about other people as a uniquely American trait. There are a lot of students in this class from other countries, I wonder whether they would agree. My experience has been that CMU students from other countries are just as curious as Americans. However, they might be influenced by having lived in the US.
Robert Ellis Smith. Ben Franklin's Web Site: Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet. Privacy Journal: 2000, Chapter 1.