THE FCE BLOG by Claudia Ceraso

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Notes on Privacy


Last Updated: 4th March 2007
(Please come back to check for updates on this entry)

In a nutshell
I do not intend to reveal or sell any sensitive information you may submit in a post comment or via e-mail to fceblog (AT) gmail (DOT) com or through the email subscription service. Ever.

Now let’s learn a bit more about what it means to surf the net.
This site uses stats and visitor counters. I use them to understand better the way you find and surf the site. For the kind of information that can be obtained with these tools, please see Statcounter and Google Analytics service description. No one in his clear mind would run a website without tracking visitors’ behavio
ur -particularly commercial ones. Whether they tell you or not, I believe you should know. The Internet is a bit like Big Brother in 1984!

Visitor tracking tools use cookies. A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier, which is sent to your browser from a web site's computers and stored on your computer's hard drive. Cookies send back information about a site’s popularity.

This is an example of how I used information from Statcounter for a presentation about this blog:

What is sensitive information?
Any information that can help people find you face to face or by mail.

Your identity
The fceblog is not a site to make friends, but a guide to help you enhance your online learning. So there is no need to post your msn or email addresses here. You could get more spam than friends if you did. I'd rather you use a nick or just your first name in comments to keep your identity private. If you run your own blog in Blogger, you may sign in here with your full name to comment. I understand you control how you handle your identity in your own site.

My policy: if you accidentally include any kind of sensitive information in a comment, I’ll moderate.

As stated in our link policy, the specific internet pages I choose to link do not have a primarily commercial purpose; therefore, they are less likely to be interested in collecting personal information. However, you should watch out whenever you are asked to register (see the note on forums below).

The nature of the internet makes pages unstable. The page I originally intended to show you may have changed since the day I wrote the post. So it is important to be alert and have a critical attitude to what we are reading online.

I tend to deep link, that is to say, to link to specific pages in a website and not necessarily the homepage. More often than not, I am simply inviting you to take a look at that page only and not to go round the whole site. Come back to the fceblog, there is so much to show you!

A note on forums
Although I am recommending student forums, check around the kind of comments posted lately before you register. Teachers or other people who are not studying at all may pop in and take part in forums. It is also important to ask yourself whether the kind of comments you see there were made by people of your age and similar learning objectives.

You should never reveal personal, sensitive information in a forum. Sensitive information is that which can make you easily found on or offline. This includes: your e-mail address, telephone number, personal/school/office address or your picture. It is ideal to use a nickname and avatar.

If someone says, post your email so that I can send you free books, past-papers or mp3 with listening exercises, just don't. If they are so kind, ask them to post their addresses instead and you email them privately. If you feel it is OK to publish your email, at least do not hyperlink it to avoid spam. You can write it as I did with mine at the top of this post. Remember the Internet is a potential audience of millions.

Safesurfing/ External Site contents
This depends on you more than anyone else. If you are under 18 years of age, I believe you should be using a computer in a place where your parents can see and share your online journeys.

This site will very rarely link you to places where you must download software. Unless it is super and free of charge. If so, you’ll be properly warned are referred back to this post to help you judge what to do.

Here is a BBC page that I advise you to read to get a good idea of what safesurfing is all about.

Online Security
Security deserves a separate post. Suffice to say here that if you are surfing the net, your computer should have all of these:

Also beware of pop-up windows and unwanted images. Firefox browser includes an effective pop-up blocker with customisable options for trusted sites.

I am linking to freeware products I am using in my own computer. No product is perfect. Security software should be updated and used with common sense to reduce online risks to a minimum. Your computer is a fantastic vehicle for online, lifelong learning. Take care of it.

To the best of my knowledge, you have been properly warned. Feel free to post any questions you may have about these issues. Remember there are no such things as silly questions on privacy or security.

Enough said. Let’s continue enjoying the fceblog!

Related Post: Link Policy