:sync: Digital Age Samaritans: Young Women and Girls Offer a Critical Perspective on Privacy (and Everything Else)

Author: Jill Bronfman
Institution: Common Sense Media
Country: United States

Topic: Technologies for Open Education
Sector: K-12
UNESCO Area of Focus: Building capacity
Session Format: Presentation


From the onset of Gamergate to recent allegations of revenge porn, from #metoo to climate change activism, in recent years young women have taken to their phones and laptops to effectuate social change. What happens to them when they get online, however, often pushes them back below the digital glass ceiling. This paper will address the efforts of young women in this generation to both be themselves online, and when necessary, mask their identities in order to express themselves online. It will discuss the laws supporting free speech online and the best practice efforts of digital platforms to offer the safe exchange of information. The paper will also cover the breakdown of this system, when the "wild west" of early startup culture led to the suppression rather than promotion of free speech, and when there were (and continue to be) failures of content moderation.

The law and ethics of data privacy are in flux with the recent adoption of GDPR and in California, CCPA. It isn’t a coincidence that California, with its baked-in constitutional right to privacy, ventured as a state with a comprehensive privacy law. Neatly-compartmentalized sectoral privacy law (healthcare, financial) must give way to an understanding that privacy law (a) cuts across a number of previously-crafted silos, and (b) should consider the cultural context in which it exists.

Women’s culture, particularly young women’s culture, is acutely aware of the risks of privacy law gaps and shortcuts. In order to make the important voices of young women heard online, and everywhere, privacy law must step up to shield them, or rather, to allow them to shield themselves. Privacy rights are human rights, and privacy law is a crucial tool in these young women’s human rights toolbox.


Edtech, Privacy, Human Rights, Feminism, DEI

Hello All! Please join me to learn about privacy and data security for young women, girls, students, and children while they use educational technology and social media.


Hello Jill,

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Logged into Room B, ready to present!

Hello, here’s the recording of the session: