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Search Engines and Privacy
Information Technology in a Global Society
What types of data would we consider personal
data or sensitive data?
AOL Search Data
In 2006 American Online (AOL) released the
search queries made by over 650,000 of its
users. The users nam...
What can you determine about these users?
User 1
• how to change brake pads on porsche 944
• 2005 us open cup florida stat...
AOL Search Data
Is there anything that indicates or strongly
suggests:
• Sex
• Age
• Religion
• Geographical location
• Ra...
AOL Search Data
The New York Times investigated the data
and successfully identified user #4417749 as
Thelma Arnold, a 61 ...
Activity 2
1. Open your web browser’s history
(Control-H in most browsers)
2. In the search box, entering
google.com/searc...
Why do search engines do this?
1. To target advertisements (over 95% of
Google’s revenue comes from
advertisements1)
2. To...
Key Points
1. In addition to factual data (e.g. names,
addresses), large amounts of data are
collected about our behaviour...
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ITGS Lesson - Introduction to Search Engines and Privacy

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This stand-alone ITGS lesson examines some of the privacy issues related to search engines. It is useful for giving prospective students an idea of the type of material that will be covered in the IB ITGS course, or for introducing existing students to the privacy social and ethical issue. Students will need their own laptops for this.

Find more ITGS resources on my website: www.itgstextbook.com

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ITGS Lesson - Introduction to Search Engines and Privacy

  1. 1. Search Engines and Privacy Information Technology in a Global Society
  2. 2. What types of data would we consider personal data or sensitive data?
  3. 3. AOL Search Data In 2006 American Online (AOL) released the search queries made by over 650,000 of its users. The users names were removed and replaced with numbers, meaning they were anonymous. Or were they?
  4. 4. What can you determine about these users? User 1 • how to change brake pads on porsche 944 • 2005 us open cup florida state champions • how to get revenge on a ex girlfriend • how to get revenge on a friend • replacement bumper for porsche 944 • florida department of law enforcement • crime stoppers florida User 2 • chai tea calories , calories in bananas • surgical help for depression • can you adopt after depression • who is not allowed to adopt • i hate men • jobs in denver colorado • teaching positions in denver colorado • how long will the swelling last after my tummy tuck • divorce laws in ohio • free remote keyloggers • baked macaroni and cheese with sour cream • how to deal with anger • teaching jobs with the denver school system • marriage counseling tips • anti psychotic drugs
  5. 5. AOL Search Data Is there anything that indicates or strongly suggests: • Sex • Age • Religion • Geographical location • Race • Occupation Or any other personal or sensitive data?
  6. 6. AOL Search Data The New York Times investigated the data and successfully identified user #4417749 as Thelma Arnold, a 61 year old from Georgia. Her searches included: • numb fingers • 60 single men • landscapers in Lilburn, Ga • homes sold in shadow lake Source: A Face is Exposed (NY Times)
  7. 7. Activity 2 1. Open your web browser’s history (Control-H in most browsers) 2. In the search box, entering google.com/search will show all the Google searches in your history 3. Write 10 things Google could conclude about you from your searches. Include the term(s) that led to this conclusion. (e.g. Searched for graduation dresses: conclusion: probably female and probably aged 18-19)
  8. 8. Why do search engines do this? 1. To target advertisements (over 95% of Google’s revenue comes from advertisements1) 2. To improve the search experience (commonly searched terms, common misspellings, etc)
  9. 9. Key Points 1. In addition to factual data (e.g. names, addresses), large amounts of data are collected about our behaviour and activities – often invisibly. 2. A single piece of data might not be very useful, but if you collect enough data you can build up a very clear picture of a person. 3. Privacy is about personal or sensitive information. It doesn't have to be something bad like visiting illegal sites.

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