The Digital Tattoo Project Will Help You Leave a Good Digital Footprint

UBC’s Digital Tattoo project has one goal; to spread the awareness of online privacy and security issues. Grant funds from UBC’s learning and teaching enhancement fund from BCcampus helped to create the project.

It’s aimed at bringing students and university community members together so they can talk about ways to help educate students in a good way to show their online presence.  It also works with other Universities.

“We don’ advocate …we’re really just trying to do some research on the tools, approaches and the things that students are thinking and people are saying with regard to their digital lives, and provide them with some information so that, as they’re making decisions about how they’re interacting online, they’re more informed,” strategic co-leader of the project, Cindy Underhill said.

The project is focusing on making people aware of free sharing services. When the service is free, it often means that it is making the customers who use their service, the products.

“Applications and tools online are not neutral. There are people behind them. There are people that created them, there are people who market based on the data that they’re gathering when people use those tools. Sometimes students will download apps or use things because it’s a quick, easy way to connect with others, but we’re not really thinking about how our digital footprint is making its way to others who are using that data for other purposes that we don’t have any knowledge of,” she continued.

They are also helping students find out exactly what companies are doing with the data they collect. They examined Blackboard Connect and the info it stored, which seemed to not be all that important as it was comprised of things like how much time you spent on pages, login info, and number of clicks.

The Digital Tattoo Project doesn’t stop there. They are going beyond social media and learning platforms and examining multi-million dollar companies as well.

A study done by the University of Indiana, showed that over 23% of people who received “sext photos” share them with others.

“From seemingly innocuous photos of someone drinking or on holiday or whatever, depending on context and the context of their teaching they can have serious consequences,” project leads state.

UBC’s Deputy Chief Information Officer agrees, and thinks the program is highly needed.

“I think the biggest thing is that because we’re using our devices so much and using them for so many things that we’ve become a little bit numb to the dangers involved,” he says.

The Project describes it goal as “aiming to help folks understand how they can protect their information and how they can better protect the information of others that they have been entrusted.”

“Maybe students that have lists of other student names and phone numbers for a campus club, for example, or professors that have a student list with student numbers and grades. It’s not necessarily just our own information that we hold on our devices, but the information of others around us,” Thompson also said.

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