7 Reasons Privacy Matters to College Students

The protection of our individual personalities defines who we are as people. – Marilia Wyatt

By Marilia Wyatt, CyberPrivacy

Privacy is important to college students for several reasons. Privacy is one’s autonomy to manage digitized information after it’s no longer used for its initial and primary purpose to ensure its integrity and proper use. Proper data governance and ethics should allow students and graduates to permanently remove and manage their profiles after completing an online course.

Here are 7 reasons why privacy matters to college students:

1. Freedom of Expression in Online College Courses

Freedom of expression in online courses would lose its value if students self-censor  because of fear of how their specific arguments or views stored in course profiles could be used outside the primary purpose. Privacy is important because it provides students the freedom to consider different perspectives without fear of surveillance, being watched, or even prosecuted.

As John Stuart Mill reminds us in his essay On Liberty, humankind is predisposed to fallibility in their opinions. Therefore, society benefits greatly from discussions and open discourse and debate.

It’s critical to protect freedom of speech in the digital age for students to have a lively forum of discussion in online course platforms and other web-based applications. – Marilia Wyatt

2. Ed-Tech Platforms Should Be Designed to Provide Students Privacy by Design

Every word, sentence, and a digital asset that students share in the intimacy of their online course community shouldn’t be recorded forever on the cloud or repurposed. Students should have an available feature to manage detailed profiles about their thoughts and views on online course platforms and their backup servers. Proper restrictions on the use of the student profile past its initial purpose should further be outlined in the vendors’ contract in consultation with university and the students who provide their information.

Within a sphere of privacy, students are free to flourish at their will. This freedom to just be, without fear of public scrutiny shapes students’ individual identities during college. – Marilia Wyatt

3.  Limit the Power of Censorship of Unpopular Ideas

Information is the wrong hands could be a weapon is our network society. The more information someone knows about us the more power they can have over us.   Plenty of examples of data breaches and unauthorized use of data has shown how information about someone can be used for extortion or to chill controversial speech or research.

4. Students Become Drones of Compliance and Mediocrity in Fear

Privacy in online courses is not about secrecy. It’s about protecting individuals’ freedom to create their digital identities and manage who has control and access to their intellectual ideas and opinions. Privacy provides a forum for students to challenge their views, express their creativity, and improve as human beings without pressure to conform or being arrested. Students may conform when they fear that the words that they write during college will be used against them in the future.

People change throughout their lives.  Privacy is also important for second chances. Every word that students write during college may not be a fair representation of who they are in the future. -Marilia Wyatt

5. Privacy Mitigates Having to Justify Opinions During College 

It’s highly disrespectful to ignore students wishes without a compelling reason to store their online course profiles. Professors and university administrators often fail to respect students’ choice to keep their course data private or to manage it after its initial and primary educational purpose. Privacy provides students the opportunity to avoid having to justify their opinions during college.

6.  Manage Reputation and Social Perceptions 

Job seekers should not be hindered by their online course profiles. Imagine being denied your dream job in the prime of your career merely because the employer vehemently disagreed with a thought that you expressed in an online post as a sophomore. The only way to prevent this scenario is to allow all students, and graduates to entirely remove their data from platforms and third-party servers after the class concludes.

Providing students the functionality to control their digital fingerprint in online course platforms and servers is about giving them the dignity and freedom to tell their story to build their lives and individuality – which is important. -Marilia Wyatt

The future models in data management for digital course requirements should reconcile the developing powers of modern day technology and innovation with respecting students desire for privacy and cybersecurity protections in online courses.  Protecting their ideas and thoughts are essential for the opportunities of personal development that students should receive in college courses.

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