Through bad planning of a difficult to implement scheme the ICO has managed to become the internet bad guy in the last few days.
Last year, the new cookie law was due to be implemented on the 26th May 2011. The idea behind the law is that any website based in the EU or serving the EU, must give the visitor the chance to opt out of small files (the cookie) being placed on their machine. These cookies are used for all kinds of things, reducing the logins required, tracking how often a visitor visits and what they might look at, that sort of thing. However a few hours before May 26th 2011, the ICO said we had another year in which to comply with the ruling.
Cookies can track you much further than from the site that issued the file. Facebook, google and many other big web names use them to track your journey and serve adverts on 'partner websites'.
Implied consent is certainly a valid form of consent but those who seek to rely on it should not see it as an easy way out or use the term as a euphemism for “doing nothing”.
Some websites have decided to give visitors a pop up, an opportunity to opt-out (David Hopkins who I follow of twitter for example). Some sites are informing visitors through their privacy section or policy (like the BBC). Some sites have so far done nothing at all.
EU law states that I must inform you that this site may store a small 'cookie' file on your device. This should only happen if you comment on a post or join this site. If you do not agree, please do not comment or join, but feel free to read
As users we've always had the opportunity to opt-out of cookies. Browsers have an option to allow cookies, to ask, or to deny. So if cookies and what they contain do worry you, I think it is probably best you head for your browser, rather than rely on individual companies and web masters because it seems they are not really sure what to do!
Projectors placed in the classroom create fantastic gateways to digital learning. Teachers and pupils alike are able to utilise software, the internet and other forms of media through a large shared image. Coupled with an interactive whiteboard the learning possibilities increase again. If a projector fails in my school teachers panic, and I think it is fair to say teaching and learning often suffers.
However, this same resource can also create it's own dangers.
A schools management information system contains everything the school needs to know about their pupils. It contains their name, address, email, phone, attendance, behaviour, exam results, special educational needs status, everything. Not only that, it will also contain the personal details of parents and carers, staff, and former pupils. Their databases can be massive.
But what happens when the two collide?
I often talk to my staff about ensuring that our management information system software is not shown on a projector. Displaying a pupils personal details, or a groups achievement marks to a class full of students is a data security breach punishable by law I tell them. Even completing a register on the projector, could expose more information to the class than a simple list of names.
Before breakfast I was searching the web as I often do for news stories on social media in regard to schools, technology and data security when I came across this article from the daily mirror. It gives the term data projector a whole different meaning!
The story highlights that not only can a data projector simply show personal and sensitive data on screen, it can give a good indication of a password too, at the very least it will give you the length. The pupil in the mirror article clearly made a mistake, his actions were illegal under the computer misuse act. Posting details on Facebook was inexcusable, but the teacher can't go without blame either. Log in and traverse your MIS on your classroom projector and you might as well go back to sticking your password on the side of your monitor!
I've talked about password security before; it's a really important part of data security, but people must also be aware of what they are projecting once they are logged in.
Image from Cirofono and licenced under creative commons