Fordham Law School’s Center for Law and Information Policy announced and released a first-ever curriculum for privacy education geared to middle school students on Oct. 16 at Fordham Law School.
The program was financed by a court-approved settlement in the class action law suit against NebuAd. Fordham Law student volunteers taught a pilot program last spring at PS 191 in New York City, and now Fordham CLIP is launching a partnership with volunteers from about a dozen law schools who will teach the program in middle schools across the country.
Fordham CLIP is making the curriculum available as a set of free open source documents on the CLIP website to any educators who want to use the instructional materials to address the many privacy issues teens face as their use of technology skyrockets.
CLIP gave inaugural Pioneer in Privacy Knowledge Awards to administrators and teachers at PS 191 as well as to the 30 students who participated in the pilot program. The Fordham CLIP team described the curriculum and the national education effort.
“As online technologies become a key feature in young teens’ lives, parents and educators must teach teens about the privacy and safety implications of these technologies,” said Joel Reidenberg, Ph.D., Fordham Law professor and founding director of CLIP. “We’ve designed a program and enlisted a team of volunteers to help educate children about how to use these devices safely so they don’t make mistakes that can impact them for many years.”
Jordan Kovnot, LAW ’11, an associate at the law firm Olender Feldman and former Fordham CLIP Privacy Fellow, developed the program during the course of his fellowship last year and supervised the group of volunteer Fordham law students who taught the program last spring to a class of seventh graders at PS 191 in Manhattan. The program features a set of one-hour-long sessions covering topics such as: 1) privacy basics; 2) how to deal with passwords and behavioral ads; 3) navigating social media and tricky situations; 4) understanding mobile, WiFi and facial recognition; and 5) managing a digital reputation.
“Our middle school students were challenged to think about privacy in their everyday lives,” said Nichole Gagnon, the PS 191 classroom teacher for the pilot class. “Many teens believe that because they are communicating through their own personal accounts, phones and computers that it is private. While interacting with the law students, they soon realized that nothing that is public can be private at the same time.”
Reidenberg has enlisted law schools and universities from around the country to teach the program for free in their communities starting next spring. Participating students and faculty include the following schools: Berkeley Law, UC-Irvine, Georgetown, Harvard’s Berkman Center, Idaho, Northern Kentucky, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, Roger Williams, Seattle, Suffolk, Tulane, Washington University-St. Louis, and Yale.
The need for this type of education is revealed by recent reports from the Pew Research Center that 93% of teens ages 12 to 17 go online, 53% of teens post their email address online, 20% post their cell phone number and 33% are connected online to people they have never met.