17-290 / 19-211 Computers and Society

Homework 3 - due February 21, 2007

Reading assignment:
Quinn 5
Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains
The Transparent Society
RFID Privacy
Optional: Digital Search and Seizure

1. New technological developments often bring with them new privacy concerns. Pick one new-technology-related privacy concern that you believe to be particularly significant. Explain the privacy issue and why you think it is a significant concern. What might be done to mitigate the concern? Don't forget to cite relevant sources.

2. Pick a particular industry or type of web site and use Privacy Finder to find two P3P-enabled web sites of that type. At each site read both the human-readable privacy policy and the Privacy Finder privacy report. (a) List the URLs of the two sites you selected. (b) Describe what aspects of each privacy policy you liked and what aspects you did not like (address both how well the sites protect privacy and how the privacy policies are presented). (c) Compare the experience reading the privacy policies with the experience reading the Privacy Finder privacy report (which was easier to understand? which was faster? which gave you the most complete information? which gave you the kind of information you found most useful? explain).

3. The CMU Data Privacy Lab has setup a website where you can view public web cams. Take a look at some of these web cams and think about their implications. Write a short essay arguing for or against placing privacy-related restrictions on web cams, citing relevant sources from the assigned readings or other materials. You should consider possible restrictions on where the cameras may be placed, whether pictures/videos are archived and for how long, who can control where they point, if/how people are notified that they might be photographed, whether anyone can access pictures/videos, whether they may be used by the government for surveillance, how much magnification (zoom) they can use, etc. You might also consider what restrictions already exist on audio recordings, photographing people in private places, etc.

Question 3 will be the topic of our class debate #3 on February 23. Students will be assigned to argue for or against the statement: The State of Pennsylvania should adopt legal restrictions on the use of web cams (those arguing for this statement should explain the types of restrictions they advocate). Debate assignments will be made in class on February 8.