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Teaching Privacy

Teaching Privacy

The growing use of social-networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, along with technical advances in data-retrieval techniques, are providing new opportunities to make use of people’s personal information — and those opportunities are equally available for both ethical and unethical uses. Current computer-science curricula at high schools and colleges usually include an abundance of material on data-retrieval methods and how to improve them, but rarely make room for discussion of the potential negative impact of these technologies.

Among the groups most affected by those negative impacts are high-school students; they are the most frequent users of social-networking sites and apps, but often do not have a full understanding of the potential consequences their current online activities might have later in their lives. For example, a Facebook posting that a high-schooler’s friends think is cool might be seen by a much larger audience than she expected — including perhaps future employers who wouldn’t think it was so cool. In addition, not understanding — or not thinking about — the consequences of posting often leads to oversharing information about other people, including friends and relatives.

The Teaching Privacy project aims to empower K-12 students and college undergrads in making informed choices about privacy. Teaching Privacy began as part of the Global Inference & Online Privacy project (GeoTube), using ICSI’s expertise about the technical underpinnings of networked communication to make a practical contribution, providing realistic information about information-sharing and privacy. We are building a set of educational materials on the Teaching Privacy website and designing visualization tools and hands-on exercises to help teachers demonstrate what happens to personal information on the Internet — and what the effects of sharing information can be.

Project Results

Educational Site:

The Teaching Privacy Website presents ten principles to describe how social-media privacy works, with detailed explanations, practical guidance, and classroom resources.

Hands-On Learning Tool:

Ready or Not? is our first educational app, demonstrating how geotagged social-media posts can be used to predict someone’s daily routine.

Teaching Privacy in the News:

Our first educational app, “Ready or Not?“, has been generating a lot of buzz:


Teaching Privacy is a collaboration between researchers at ICSI in the Audio & Multimedia, AI, and Networking & Security groups; the Berkeley Foundation for Opportunities in Information Technology (BFOIT); and the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at UC Berkeley.

Researchers @ ICSI & BFOIT (Current and Past):

Collaborators @ UC Berkeley:

  • Dan Garcia
  • Jeffrey Jacinto
  • Itzel Martinez
  • Arany Uthayakumar


Teaching Privacy is partially supported by National Science Foundation grants CNS‐1065240: Understanding and Managing the Impact of Global Inference on Online Privacy and DGE-1419319: Teachers’ Resources for Online Privacy Education. The opinions, findings, and conclusions described on this website are those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.