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Free Coventry University course to help people protect their online privacy

July 2021 by Marc Jacob

People can learn what privacy means, how it is impacted when using the web and mobile apps and how to protect their privacy online thanks to a free course from Coventry University.

The university has worked closely with experts including Pat Walshe at PrivacyMatters to create an informative online course, offering participants easy access to key information about how to keep their online privacy safe.

Coventry University has a strong reputation for its digital education provision and online offering, after it was ranked number 1 in the world for the delivery of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) by MOOCLabs for 2021.

With people’s information and digital footprint becoming increasingly sought after, the university hopes the course will build further awareness, while helping people stay protected online. Typically, data is collected through cookies and pixels on websites or other means such as browser fingerprinting and trackers embedded in mobile apps. Tracking techniques allow multiple parties to learn about the pages you visit, what you click and view, what devices you use and your location, all of which has data protection and privacy implications.

Citizen Scientists Investigating Cookies and App GDPR compliance (CSI-COP), an EU Horizon2020 funded project led by Coventry University, has facilitated the free informal education course, called ‘Your Right to Privacy Online’. The project has already seen the creation of a privacy-by-design, no-tracking website.

The course is designed to help people gain the knowledge and skills to turn off tracking by disabling cookies on websites and changing app permissions on mobile devices. It features an introductory video, practical tasks and activities, a knowledge test and recommended reading to help participants stay safe online.

Huma Shah, Assistant Professor and Researcher in Artificial Intelligence at Coventry University, said: “We’re delighted to be able to tap into the university’s expertise in digital education to deliver this new, accessible and really useful course. The hope is that we can help as many people as possible to protect their online privacy and personal data while using the internet as well as giving them the tools and knowledge to better understand their rights to online privacy.”

Beyond the MOOC, members of the public can join the CSI-COP team as citizen scientists to explore the extent of tracking across the internet. Citizen science is a great way for volunteers to collaborate with research teams, raising awareness of issues impacting society and increasing trust between the general public and scientists.

Pat Walshe, Director for PrivacyMatters, said: “It’s never been more important to help people understand how their privacy is impacted when using websites and mobile apps and to help them protect their rights under data protection and ePrivacy law. I’m glad to see Coventry University working hard to achieve this with the development of this course which I’m sure will help greatly."




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