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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clear your Google web history NOW! Why and how educators should do this.

You can go to https://www.google.com/history/ and sign in with your Google account and clear your web history before the March 1 (Thursday) privacy change. You can click "remove all web history."

IMPORTANT NOTE: IF you have multiple Google accounts ( a personal gmail and a school account through Google apps for domains, for example) you'll need to do this for both. I'm going to have my students do this tomorrow.

Why would you want to clear your history if you're a good person?
Your gmail, youtube, and web search accounts are going to be combined for Google to use somehow as they share with advertisers or whoever. I don't know and Google may not either.

I have nothing to be ashamed of, but I do have some things I need to keep private including the IP addresses of every machine and smart device I log into here on campus. I also found a few things like my children searching for no-so-nice lyrics of some songs they may like (that Momma doesn't know about.) You're not the only one using your web browser, you know.

Additionally, you'll find if you look deeply, the topics I'm researching. Most of them are just fine but what about the links and information I'm putting in my next book? I've worked hard for what is in my head, do I want you to be able to see everything there before it is published in my next book? Would it put me in breach of my publishing contract? I'm not totally sure (but then again, I'm not totally unsure either it is enough of a question to bother me, however.)

I also vet the people I work with. If someone calls me from out of the blue and wants me to do work for or with them, I check them out. I do due diligence. So I may combine someone's name with various search terms to see if something comes out. (If you saw I had the name of a reputable person combined with odd search terms would you think I knew something bad?)

Even more important, could I possible disclose something covered by an NDA? I'm under lots of NDA's that let me see advanced products and websites. If I was searching for things related to work with them or consulting work I do for people who want to be bleeding edge in technology, then I could be in breach of those NDA's, I would think, depending upon who saw it.

After I cleared my web history, it let me pause the collection, which is probably where I"ll leave it for now until I understand what this means and how it impacts the legal requirements.

I think the big question in the minds of many is something that happened like with Google Buzz privacy fiasco where everyone's emails were shared that you had in your contact list and people started asking why people were emailing each other.

Big companies rarely test such things completely and often just asking forgiveness is the course.

I work with children and have a responsibility to protect them and the teachers as well. I will always err on the cautious side of the fence with such precious ones in my care. It is the right thing to do.

Some scenarios.

  • What if you're looking for a job and no one knows it. How is this going to be used?
  • What if you had a parent situation and you were looking up information on the parent?
  • What if a student typed something bad on Facebook and you had to type in what they said to find it?

I don't know where this information will go but sometimes I find myself typing things I"d rather not have to type. I recall having to look up a word not too long a go that was scratched on something and it was a very embarrassing definition.

I paused my web history search.

Then. Clear your Youtube History
Clear your youtube search history by going to www.youtube.com and sign in. Click on your name and click on "Video manager" and then click "Search History." You can clear your search history and then, click "Pause Search History" which is what I did.
YouTube after I cleared and paused search history.

 and go through all the steps outlined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They did a great job of explaining it.

Now that you've protected yourself, it is time to educate others. I think this is very important for teachers and principals as we are under policies that require us to keep things private. Until we know and understand what they are doing, we should be safe.

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