New technologies empower people, but threaten privacy
Recent technological advancements online offer the world many benefits, but sometimes they go too far and begin to infringe upon on our rights. The right to free speech and privacy, set forth by the constitution, are occasionally at risk when new products emerge that aim to collect data or help police society at large.
Google's digital pill
Google is working on developing a cancer-detecting pill that is still in the experimental stage. The pill contains small magnetic particles that will travel through a patient's bloodstream in order to find malignant cells, reported Komonews. The particles will send information to sensors on a wearable device.
Google believes that cancer-detecting nanoparticles can be coated with antibodies that will bind with specific proteins of various diseases or conditions. The particles would continuously report data from analysis conducted in the bloodstream.
The aim behind this technology is to get a better picture of patient health than that already obtained through blood samples. Andrew Conrad, head of life sciences at Google X, said that a wearable device would be helpful in collecting data from the human body.
"We want to make it simple and automatic and not invasive … The company is here looking for ways to proactively monitor health and prevent disease, rather than wait to diagnose problems," Conrad said, according to the news source.
However, one reported concern is whether information stored on the Internet, as a result of a wearable device, would affect the privacy or security of patient data. When asked if Google would use the data for business purposes, Conrad indicated that the company has no interest in doing so. However, the fear remains that perhaps this technology goes too far and will have serious implications on data privacy in the future.
A tool called Securly monitors student's online activity
Another technology that may threaten privacy rights online is Securly which is a tool that is intended to prevent cyber-bullying and suicide. It relies on data from student searches and posts on social media to offer parents and schools a way to recognize harmful behavior before calamity strikes. Lisa DeLapo, director of instructional innovation at Holy Names High School, indicated that her school uses Securly to see what students have been up to by using the program as a filter in their Chromebooks.
"From the Securly dashboard, the administrators can see what students have and haven't been able to access… If I want to see what kids are posting on Twitter or Facebook, I can – everything on our Chromebooks gets logged by Securly," DeLapo said, according to edSurge.
The application uses a cloud-based filtering system that flags suspicious word combinations or websites. The developers argue that their program enables educators to intervene and help troubled students. DeLapo explained that social media filtering helps the school discuss emotional issues and other troubles so that students can get some help if needed.
"Most of our students are economically disadvantaged, and use our device as their only device," DeLapo added.
Securly originally launched as a kickstarter campaign to offer data analytics capabilities to families. The developers maintained that while digital citizenship should be taught at schools, it should also be reinforced in homes. That is where the app comes into play.
Securly also raises privacy concerns as it is a violation of constitutional rights to search through the social media posts of students. One student at DeLapo's school said that she agreed students should be monitored when at school, but that at home it was not appropriate. It is noteworthy to mention that Securly only functions on school-issued devices, so presumably, as long as students use computers for educational purposes, their privacy will not be invaded, the news source added.
The lesson here is that, as with all tools online, they can be used for good or for evil.