15-508 / 17-801 / 19-608 / 95-818: Privacy Policy, Law, and Technology

Homework 1 - due September 2, 2004

Reading assignment: Garfinkel - 1; Smith - Introduction, Watchfulness, Serenity

1. Write a short summary of each chapter in the reading assignment (2-5 sentences each). After each summary (in a separate paragraph) provide a "highlight" for that chapter. This can be something new you learned that you found particularly interesting, a point you would like to discuss further in class, a question the chapter did not fully answer, something you found confusing, a point you disagree with, or anything else you found noteworthy. The Smith Introduction is done for you here as an example - you need to do the same thing for the other three chapters in the reading assignment.

Smith Introduction - Summary: Americans value personal privacy, but they also ask for and provide a lot of personal information. Thus, there is a tension between privacy and curiosity. Throughout history, people have become more interested in protecting their privacy each time new technology is deployed that intrudes on their privacy - especially when that technology is "in the hands of large and powerful organizations." The Web raises new privacy concerns because it places the ability to snoop in the hands of individuals.
Smith Introduction - Highlight: Smith portrays curiosity about other people as a uniquely American trait. There are a lot of students in this class from other countries, I wonder whether they would agree.

2. Make a one-page "collage" by photocopying the contents of your wallet on a single sheet of paper. You may "edit" your collage by leaving out items or by blacking out information on items you do include. Your collage will be passed around the classroom for your classmates to see and turned in for grading.

3. In Chapter 1, Garfinkel gives several examples of what he means by privacy. Think about these examples and give two examples of what privacy means to you.

4. List several privacy-related issues that have been in the news recently. Be prepared to discuss these in class.