Announcing the winner of the 2020 Future of Privacy Scholarship

3 min read
Jamie

Jamie is always hungry. He also writes about digital privacy in exchange for sandwiches.

ExpressVPN Scholarship 2020 winner.

We are excited to announce the winner of the ExpressVPN Future of Privacy Scholarship 2020: Ho Hui Jun, an educational psychology student at University College London, UK. Congratulations!

This year, our essay prompt asked students to discuss the extent to which parents, companies, and governments should be free to make privacy-affecting decisions on behalf of children, particularly with regard to sharing on social media. We received over 2,000 entries tackling the topic, with plenty of exploration into different measures and policies that governments and internet businesses could take to protect young children’s right to privacy.

We chose to award the $5,000 scholarship prize to Hui Jun based on her understanding of the issues at hand and thoughtful analysis of the topic. She wrote that while parents are ultimately responsible for understanding the risks of online “sharenting,” governments and internet businesses can play an important role in educating them and making children’s privacy more of a public-health issue. You can read her essay on our scholarship page.

There was stiff competition with so many applicants this year, but five runners-up also presented compelling viewpoints on what has become a growing topic of debate from the blogosphere to the UN. Each runner-up won a 12-month ExpressVPN subscription.

They are:

  • Sierra Bruining, University of Lethbridge, Canada
  • Joanna Chromik, Indiana University, U.S.
  • Walter Muschenheim, York University, Ontario, Canada
  • Moyowa Ometoruwa, Ernest Manning High School, Alberta, Canada
  • Bilge Temel, King’s College London, UK

Q&A with our winner

We spoke to Hui Jun about her winning essay, her own privacy measures, and how she plans to use her degree to help others:

1. What are some of the digital privacy issues you encounter in your daily life? Do you take steps to protect your digital privacy?

Like many people, I am concerned about the amount of information that is extracted from me online. I do my best to manage this by being careful about cookies, security settings, and the amount of information provided to companies.

2. In which ways do you think big tech companies are most intrusive into people’s privacy?

When companies use what you search online or post on social media to place ads.

3. In your essay, you make suggestions for both governments and corporations to safeguard children. How challenging do you anticipate cooperation between governments and corporations to be when attempting to regulate online spaces where pictures are posted?

Cooperation between governments and corporations is critical if we are to seriously tackle this issue. Corporations have the innovations and know-how to launch tools that help people help themselves when it comes to privacy. Governments have the legitimacy to educate people and the responsibility to ensure corporations have the right incentives to take this issue seriously. 

That said, as seen from the difficulties in regulating online speech, cooperation between governments and corporations will be more challenging if each competes with the other for legitimacy. Corporations should not categorically view all regulation as censorship; governments should not see corporations as always being exploitative.

4. How likely do you see such laws and regulations being misused for censorship purposes?  

This would depend on how the laws come into being. There is less avenue for such laws to be used for censorship if governments partner with corporations in the process of developing the laws and building in safeguards.

5. What are you currently studying and what do you hope to pursue in the future?

I have just started my Doctorate in Educational Psychology at the Institute of Education, University College London, where I am training to practice as an Educational Psychologist (EP). One of my roles as an EP is to safeguard children and young people, both online and offline, to ensure that they have the right to grow up in safe and consistent circumstances.

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Is privacy a topic that matters to you? Consider entering next year’s essay competition for the ExpressVPN Future of Privacy Scholarship! Details to come in early 2021.

Jamie writes about current issues concerning digital privacy and security and is known to interview leading figures in tech. He also keeps an eye on changes in government censorship and surveillance.