meta data for this page

I chose edX Course: Philosophy and Critical Thinking

Task 1: Find 3 articles

Neil M. Richards: The danger of surveillance

  • The author discusses about the moral issues relating to government's control and inspection of the citizens
  • Pointing out the potential risks of such activities to raise the people's awareness of this problem
  • It is understandable that such surveillance is necessary to prevent possible terrorism and protect civilians. However, the civilians do not recognize the risks of harms to themselves, and the law to protect personal's privacy once being surveilled has minimal effects and inadequately understood.

Tamara Dinev et al., Internet Users’ Privacy Concerns and Attitudes towards Government Surveillance: An Exploratory Study of Cross-Cultural Differences between Italy and the United States

Yunchuan Sun et al., Data Security and Privacy in Cloud Computing

Seminar day 1

Chapter 18-19 (Nothing to hide) seminar_1_-_chapter_18-19.pdf

Seminar day 2

Chapter 1-2 (Data and Goliath) datagoliath_chapter1_2_hieu.pdf

Task 2: Digital services

Find two digital services, study what kind of data they collect, if that data is sold to anyone, if it can be linked with any other data etc. Deadline by final presentation.


LinkedIn is social networking services for professionals coming from different educational backgrounds. On October 2015, there was above 400 millions users from 200 countries registered to the network.

According to LinkedIn's privacy policy [1], the below data are collected according to the following categories.

  • Registration: name, email addresses, mobile phone, password
  • Profile information: postal code, job title, company, skills, experience, educational background, honors, awards, etc.
  • Address book and other services syncing with LinkedIn: address book, contacts, calendar, etc.
  • Customer services: once an user contact customer support of LinkedIn, all the information regarding to it will be collected

LinkedIn explained the purpose of collecting such data in their privacy policy. The data are used to create personal data and page on LinkedIn networks, communication between LinkedIn and user (through messaging, email) to notify about vacant positions or companies, etc, communication between users (contact other user via LinkedIn services). Also the data are used for service development and enhance customized experience for user. LinkedIn stated clearly that once joining, users consent to LinkedIn processing information and agree that user's profile can be seen by others.

As such, LinkedIn also stated that they may share user's personal information with affiliates and 3rd party to provide services. For example, SlideShare utilizes user's content preferences to recommend better content to such user.

  • Headhunter agencies: job matchmaking and suggestion, searching for job candidates
  • Ads: advertisement activities, marketing about company

It has been recorded that LinkedIn was accused of selling user's data to potential employers in 2014 [2] . The case was filed by California court, claiming that the job reference tool allows employers to hire or fire people without regard to users. The tool allows employers to mine employment history of job applicants without user's knowledge.




Amazon is popular electronic commerce and cloud computing company from America, founded in 1994. Here, only Amazon online shopping service is discussed. Amazon e-commerce is the internet-based retailer, having separate retail websites in 15 countries (2015).

Amazon listed examples of information collected in their privacy notice [1], classifying in 5 different types as below.

  • Information customers give: information when customers search, buy, post, participate in contest or questionnaire, communicate with customer service
  • Automatic information: IP address, login, email address, password, computer and connection information (browser type, version, time zone setting, browser's plugins, OS), purchase history, browser data (cookies, flash cookies), etc.
  • Mobile: location, mobile device, carrier
  • Email communications: mailing list to send regular messages
  • Information from other sources: updated delivery and address information from carriers or other 3rd parties, account information, purchase or redemption information, page-view information from merchants, etc.

Amazon claimed that they are not in the business of selling customer's information to others. Amazon stated clearly whom they share customer's information.

  • Affiliated business Amazon doesn't control: Amazon works closely with affiliated businesses which operate stores at Amazon website or sell offerings to customers at the website. Also, Amazon sometimes operate stores and services, sell products jointly with these businesses.
  • 3rd party service provider: for delivering packages, postal mail, email, data analysis, marking assistance, payment processing.
  • Promotion offers: sending offers to selected groups of users


edX course: Philosophy and Critical Thinking

Task 3: Exam questions

In my opinion, the exam questions do not focus on testing the understanding of examinee about terms and concepts. Instead, these questions want to ask examinees' options and how they argue and give points to support their opinions.

1. What are benefits and problems of data mining projects conducted by the government?

This question concerns examinee's awareness and opinions about the government's data mining projects.

2. Explain the different types of surveillance

The surveillance issue is discussed through the two books. This type of question is typical at examination, aiming at checking examinee's understanding of the concept.

3. How much would you sacrifice your privacy for security?

This question aims at asking the opinions of examinee about the balance between privacy and security, which was discussed in the seminars. The question doesn't have right or wrong answer but tests how examinee give arguments and provide ideas to support the statements.

4. What are solutions for people to avoid surveillance? Give your opinions to evaluate those solutions.

The examinee reflects the ideas presented on chapter 15 of book Data and Goliath.