Three Student Privacy Conversation Starters: ITS staff present at ASU Digital Trust Summit

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“We have a well-established philosophy on privacy at U-M; it’s a core value in our community and goes beyond compliance,” stated Svetla Sytch, ITS assistant director of privacy and IT policy. Sytch, along with Julia Silverman, an ITS intern fellow, teamed up to present “Three Student Privacy Conversation Starters” at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Digital Trust Summit virtual event on June 16. 

They shared their perspectives on the work U-M has undertaken to educate students about privacy, focusing on three important initiatives: ViziBLUE, Data Privacy Day, and Six Words About Privacy. 

ViziBLUE

Silverman began by describing her work on ViziBLUE—an innovative website that transparently illustrates what data the university collects about students and how it is used—through the ITS Summer Internship Program in 2020. She showed the ViziBLUE at U-M video, explained the website’s origin as a student proposal, and described the collaborations that made the site possible. 

Six Words About Privacy

Following this was the discussion of the second conversation starter, Six Words About Privacy. Sol Bermann, the university’s chief information security officer and executive director of ITS Information Assurance, began the initiative with inspiration from The Race Card Project and his conversations with Michael Corn of the University of California, San Diego.

The analysis of the submissions, as well as the Six Words Project Podcast, offer additional information about the initiative. The webpage encourages anyone to submit six words on how they view privacy and displays others’ submissions. 

Data Privacy Day

Finally, Sytch addressed the third conversation starter, Data Privacy Day. She noted that U-M’s annual Privacy@Michigan event, “serves as an important reminder that privacy is not a stand-alone area of expertise. . . . It is not a topic reserved for those in the know, and it can and should enter everyday conversations.”

ITS began recognizing Data Privacy Day with Privacy@Michigan in 2018 in partnership with the U-M School of Information. The event brings together distinguished speakers, faculty, researchers, students, and staff from across the university to spark conversation around the role of privacy in society. 

“Before I worked at ITS or on ViziBLUE, I was not aware of the extent that data collection was impacting me,” said Silverman. “I think that data collection and privacy are present in our lives in more ways than we realize, and the most important thing is to empower people with that knowledge.”

This student perspective illustrates the ways these topics can spark conversations around privacy and the importance of using multiple methods of communication to reach students.

For more about the presentation, see: