Can you help me teach privacy to those who need it most?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
It's a book!

Since I first scribbled its rough outline, one of my goals for my book on foundational privacy has been for it to be adopted as a curricular teaching material. Hitting the printing presses in autumn/winter meant that we missed out on that opportunity. But it might just all work out in the end, because now is the time I want to encourage instructors to adopt the book in their classrooms, whether physical or virtual.

It may seem strange to write about this on a wintry day in early March, but this is the time when instructors are settling next year’s curricula. So now is the time those decisions need to be made.

Who is it for, and what’s in it?

If you’re not familiar with my book, here’s who it’s for:

  • Designers, developers, and project managers already working to build the web, either in professional situations or in side projects
  • Pupils in secondary schools, trainees in code academies, and students in undergraduate courses
  • People who have had little to no training on foundational privacy, aside from some heavily legalese and terrifying compliance processes

Here’s who the book is not for:

  • Data protection professionals, lawyers, and think tanks
  • Postgraduate courses, researchers, and academics
  • People who have experience in privacy, even if approached from a legal/compliance perspective as opposed to a foundational one.

While I appreciate the support of all of those audiences, you lot are, well, the choir. This book doesn’t need to preach to you. But there is something you may be able to do to help, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

A full deep dive into the book, and why I wrote it, is here. Soundtrack included free of charge.

A few years ago I shared a rough outline of the book, as it was then in-progress, as a suggested curriculum. While the end result was made even better thanks to tight editing, the core principle I shared in that post remains the same:

whatever curricular track ensues from the book’s adoption, the important thing is that it remains positive and foundational.

In that light, the book is pretty much the only foundational resource out there which doesn’t throw its readers straight into stonkingly complex legalese (as in “read the full legal text of GDPR”) or into academic papers which require tertiary education to even comprehend. The book also steers well clear of the finger-wagging “this is the LAW and you must COMPLY or else you will GET A FINE” mentality which inspired me to write the book in the fist place.

In other words, it’s it, and it’s better than nothing.*

So what’s the problem here?

It’s this: I have no current or active contacts in teaching, anywhere, anymore. I did when I started the book in 2019, but then the pandemic hit, various people retired, and other connections faded away.

(Hell, I haven’t even been to Codebase or Codeclan since before the plague, and there was a time I was in there so often that they’d shout “HEATHER!” when I walked in, like it was my own personal pub.)

So I am approaching this challenge – that is, getting my book into instructors’ hands – from zero.

In other words, I don’t even know where to start, or who to contact.

This is where I’m calling on you, dear readers, to get this book in front of the eyes of the instructors who need to evaluate it, like, right now-ish, so that they have the time they need to adopt it as a resource and draft a curriculum around the material.

So if you know who those people are, send them this blog post, or leave a comment.

And if you’re an instructor who might like a review copy, get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.

*not quite “it”: the awesome Stuart Langridge has launched an online course on privacy-preserving techniques for developers. If this is what you need, go for it! If you want a deeper dive, the book will provide it.

The Author

I’m a UK tech policy wonk based in Glasgow. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any current or previous team.